Feng Lu, Yasuyuki Matsushita, Imari Sato, Takahiro Okabe, and Yoichi Sato, “From Intensity Profile to Surface Normal: Photometric Stereo for Unknown Light Sources and Isotropic Reflectances”, IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), 2015. vol. 37, no. 10, pp. 1999-2012, October 2015. (DOI: 10.1109/TPAMI.2015.2389841)
We propose an uncalibrated photometric stereo method that works with general and unknown isotropic reflectances. Our method uses a pixel intensity profile, which is a sequence of radiance intensities recorded at a pixel under unknown varying directional illumination. We show that for general isotropic materials and uniformly distributed light directions, the geodesic distance between intensity profiles is linearly related to the angular difference of their corresponding surface normals, and that the intensity distribution of the intensity profile reveals reflectance properties. Based on these observations, we develop two methods for surface normal estimation; one for a general setting that uses only the recorded intensity profiles, the other for the case where a BRDF database is available while the exact BRDF of the target scene is still unknown. Quantitative and qualitative evaluations are conducted using both synthetic and real-world scenes, which show the state-of-the-art accuracy of smaller than 10 without using reference data and 5 with reference data for all 100 materials in MERL database.