A radiative transfer model is developed which gives the upward radiance at nadir for any 1-D Lambertian surface reflectance. This model is used to depict the atmospheric effect on the transmittance of contrast for any 1-D surface reflectance. Here by contrast we mean a general variation of the radiation field across the image. With the aid of this model an inversion algorithm is developed for retrieval of true surface reflectance from high resolution satellite data (e.g., Landsat). This inversion technique can be a useful tool for extraction of surface reflectance from satellite data in the case of a surface reflectance variable in one dimension only (e.g., seashore or near borders of big fields). A sensitivity study of the inversion procedure on the knowledge of atmospheric parameters and sensor calibration was performed. It is shown that this inversion technique is stable even in the presence of errors in the sensor calibration and the atmospheric parameters. The method was applied to Landsat data in two wavelengths. The results show reasonable dependence of the derived surface reflectance on the distance from the seashore.