This paper address the problems of modeling the appearance of humans and distinguishing human appearance from the appearance of general scenes. We seek a model of appearance and motion that is generic in that it accounts for the ways in which people's appearance varies and, at the same time, is specific enough to be useful for tracking people in natural scenes. Given a 3D model of the person projected into an image we model the likelihood of observing various image cues conditioned on the predicted locations and orientations of the limbs. These cues are taken to be steered filter responses corresponding to edges, ridges, and motion-compensated temporal differences. Motivated by work on the statistics of natural scenes, the statistics of these filter responses for human limbs are learned from training images containing hand-labeled limb regions. Similarly, the statistics of the filter responses in general scenes are learned to define a “background” distribution. The likelihood of observing a scene given a predicted pose of a person is computed, for each limb, using the likelihood ratio between the learned foreground (person) and background distributions. Adopting a Bayesian formulation allows cues to be combined in a principled way. Furthermore, the use of learned distributions obviates the need for hand-tuned image noise models and thresholds. The paper provides a detailed analysis of the statistics of how people appear in scenes and provides a connection between work on natural image statistics and the Bayesian tracking of people.