The central problems of vision are often divided into object identification and localization. Object identification, at least at fine levels of discrimination, may require the application of top–down knowledge to resolve ambiguous image information. Utilizing top–down knowledge, however, may require the initial rapid access of abstract object categories based on low–level image cues. Does object localization require a different set of operating principles than object identification or is category determination also part of the perception of depth and spatial layout? Three–dimensional graphics movies of objects and their cast shadows are used to argue that identifying perceptual categories is important for determining the relative depths of objects. Processes that can identify the causal class (e.g. the kind of material) that generates the image data can provide information to determine the spatial relationships between surfaces. Changes in the blurriness of an edge may be characteristically associated with shadows caused by relative motion between two surfaces. The early identification of abstract events such as moving object/shadow pairs may also be important for depth from shadows. Knowledge of how correlated motion in the image relates to an object and its shadow may provide a reliable cue to access such event categories.