Mitigating the effect of optical back-scatter in multispectral underwater imaging

Halleh Mortazavi, John P. Oakley, Braham Barkat

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    Multispectral imaging is a very useful technique for extracting information from the underwater world. However, optical back-scatter changes the intensity value in each spectral band and this distorts the estimated spectrum. In this work, a filter is used to detect the level of optical back-scatter in each spectral band from a set of multispectral images. Extraction of underwater object spectra can be done by subtracting the estimated level of optical back-scatter and scaling the remainder in each spectral band from the captured image in the corresponding band. An experiment has been designed to show the performance of the proposed filter for correcting the set of multispectral underwater images and recovering the pixel spectra. The multispectral images are captured by a B/W CCD digital camera with a fast tunable liquid-crystal filter in 33 narrow spectral bands in clear and different levels of turbid water. Reference estimates for the optical back-scatter spectra are found by comparing a clear and a degraded set of multispectral images. The accuracy and consistency of the proposed method, the extended Oakley-Bu cost function, is examined by comparing the estimated values with the reference level of an optical back-scatter spectrum. The same comparison is made for the simple estimation approach. The results show that the simple method is not reliable and fail to estimate the level of optical back-scatter spectrum accurately. The results from processing experimental images in turbid water show that the effect of optical back-scatter can be mitigated in the image of each spectral band and, as a result, the spectra of the object can be recovered. However, for a very high level of turbid water the recovery is limited because of the effect of extinction. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number074025
    JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • optical back-scatter, underwater image, multispectral image, spectral reflectance


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