Graduate students will implement two forms of tone mapping, based on topics discussed in class, in particular the 2002 SIGGRAPH paper Fast Bilateral Filtering for the Display of High-Dynamic-Range Images by Frédo Durand and Julie Dorsey.

Tone mapping is a process by which high dynamic range (HDR) images are converted to a form for which they can be displayed. Our approach will use the filtering techniques we’ve discussed in class. HDR images store a wide range of possible values, typically five or more orders of magnitude. Converting them to a display space (which is limited to two orders of magnitude) AND preserving interesting features can be quite tricky.


This assignment is designed to teach you techniques that relate to:

  • Color spaces and representations of the image range space.
  • Processing color spaces to provide adjustments common to how images are displayed.
  • Implementing these adjustments through rescaling filters that convert from HDR to low dynamic range.
  • Implementing convolution filters, in particular the bilateral filter, to better understand the connection between processing regions of data and how these relate to signal processing.

Part 1: Reading HDR data

Starting with your previous assignment, you should modify your code to also support the ability to load HDR images formatted using the Radiance RGBE .hdr extension. For this assignment, you may either write your own file parser (the format is a bit more complicated than .ppm, but not insane, see RGBE File Format). To save time, I have initialized your repositories to include a slightly modified version of Martin Ignac’s code for parsing HDR files in Javascript. You can use the function parseHDR() with the output of a FileReader set to readAsArrayBuffer(file) by loading the script hdr.js in your index.html.

Note that when you read an HDR file, you will read the data in as an array of floats of size . However, since the data is high dynamic range, the values could be quite small and quite large. Your task will be to convert these to values that can be displayed through the following tone mapping approaches.

Your RGBE reader should be able to support all of the test images here:

Be sure to include which images you tested with. At a minimum, you should at least try lamp.hdr, smalldesignCenter.hdr, and memorial.hdr from each of the first, second, and third links above.

Finally, your program must support the writing of these files, after applying tone mapping, as low dynamic range PPMs.

Part 2: Basic Tone Mapping

Your first tone mapping operator will be to employ a simple gamma correct method, in the log space of its luminance. This is a three step process, based on computing a scale value that you will multiply each channel with separately.

  1. This scale value should be computed based on the luminance, , of the pixel. There are a variety of equations that one could use to go from to , but for this assignment we will use one of the simplest:

  2. Next, you goal will be to compute a target display luminance value . The user should be able to dynamically adjust the variable gamma of the displayed image. For this, I found combinations of HTML range and number inputs to be of use, see for information here. I then added event handlers to process the image on change.

    While you could directly use the Math.pow() function to compute , it turns out that if you work in the space you can achieve this (and the next part of the assignment) will less computational effort. Thus, to do so first compute and store log(L) for each pixel. We will rely on the equivalence that . Once we have computed we can then recover by taking .

  3. Finally, you can then compute your scale value by . After computing the scale, you can update the RGB values by multiplying each channel by it. Note, this might produce values outside of the range . In these situations you should clamp your values back into the appropriate range. If you fail to clamp the data, you will produce a variety of visual artifacts (which might be fun to test with, but you will be penalized if you do not correct them!). Alternatively, you might want to consider storing values outside of the range and then using a Uint8ClampedArray (the default type for ImageData’s data property to do the final clamping before display).

Part 3: Tone Mapping with Bilateral Filters

If you try varying gamma, you should be able to improve the input over the original display, however, in general there will be a number of issues which we attempt to fix.

As discussed in class, one issue with using a gamma corrected space is while it compresses the HDR range space in a perceptually sensitive way, it fails to properly distinguish between features of different scales. To access this, we will modify our simple approach to also take advantage of a feature dependent measure using convolution. By separating the image into coarse scale and fine scale features, we can separately apply gamma correction to them.

In particular, you should first implement a convolution operator, , that performs low-pass smoothing by doing . can be anything you like, but I suggest using a box filter of varying sizes (even will improve the tone map, but up to may do better).

Our goal is to apply gamma correction only to the low-pass component of the luminance channel (we will call this ) and to recombine with the preserved high-pass component (we will call this ). The procedure is as follows:

  1. .   (first compute low-pass B with convolution)

  2. .   (next, separate log(L) into high-pass S and low-pass B)

  3. .   (gamma correct B and recombine with S)

  4. .   (convert back from log space to original)

  5. .   (produce scale value)

After computing scale, one can then update the RGB values by multiplying each channel by it as before. Setting gamma is this situation can be tricky to understand. In general, the idea is that you want to preserve some contrast threshold . On Durand’s website (near the bottom) he suggests using a gamma, called “compression factor” set relative to the minimum and maximum of . Specifically, . I found that worked well. Durand also suggests subtracting an absolute scale from the formulation. I found that both of these changes improved my results.

While this simple approach improves the results, it also blurs features that cross over edges in the input. After getting to this stage, you should next modify your convolution-based tone mapper to instead use a bilateral filter instead of a box filter for . The idea is that when you tone map with just convolution of a smoothing filter, you will create halos based on how big of a window you convolve against. These halos are the result of crossing edges in the image.

To fix this, you must modify your convolution to produce a non-linear operator instead of a standard box filter. Durand suggests quite a few options for this, you are welcome to experiment with your own. In my implementation, I multiplied by a weight of where equals the difference in between the center pixel of the convolution and whatever other pixel you are summing.

Part 4: Written Questions

Please answer the following written questions. You are not required to typeset these questions in any particular format, but you may want to take the opportunity to include images (either photographed hand-drawings or produced using an image editing tool).

These questions are both intended to provide you additional material to consider the conceptual aspects of the course as well as to provide sample questions in a similar format to the questions on the midterm and final exam. Most questions should able to be answered in 100 words or less of text.

Please create a separate directory in your repo called written and post all files (text answers and written) to this directory. Recall that the written component is due BEFORE the programming component.

  1. Briefly explain the computational differences in applying a bilateral filter vs. standard linear convolutional filter. Particularly, focus on why this is more expensive as a result of having to compute the normalization factor and how your implementation addresses it.

  2. The simplest possible approach to tone mapping is to take the HDR input data and normalize it to produce values between . What are the potential problems with using this technique?

  3. What is a pixel? How big is a pixel? Both of these questions have multiple answers, briefly explain yours.

  4. 3 × 3 convolution kernels can create a variety of effects. Consider the following three kernels. Briefly describe the output image that is produced as a result of convolution with each kernel (you may assume each are scaled differently if necessary):




  5. Draw and label a diagram of the HSV color space. Include a brief description of each variable, its role in the final color, and a possible numeric range.



Reason Value
Program crashes due to bugs -10 each bug at grader's discretion to fix

Point Breakdown of Features

Requirement Value
Consistent modular coding style 10
External documentation ( 5
Class documentation, Internal documentation (Block and Inline). Wherever applicable / for all files 15
Expected output / behavior based on the assignment specification, including

Modifying your image reading code to correctly read and store HDR inputs.10
Converting the internally represented data range to a displayable representation, implementing clamping so that values do not overflow.10
Allowing the user a mechanism to vary parameters.10
Implementing tone mapping via gamma correction.15
Correctly implementing bilateral filter kernel.15
Correctly implementing convolution and boundary condition.5
Supporting writing the output, tone mapped HDR image as a LDR PPM.5

Total 100