Mitigation of Contrast Loss in Underwater Images

  • Halleh Mortazavi

Student thesis: Phd


The quality of an underwater image is degraded due to the effects of light scattering in water, which are resolution loss and contrast loss. Contrast loss is the main degradation problem in underwater images which is caused by the effect of optical back-scatter. A method is proposed to improve the contrast of an underwater image by mitigating the effect of optical back-scatter after image acquisition. The proposed method is based on the inverse model of an underwater image model, which is validated experimentally in this work. It suggests that the recovered image can be obtained by subtracting the intensity value due to the effect of optical back-scatter from the degraded image pixel and then scaling the remaining by a factor due to the effect of optical extinction. Three filters are proposed to estimate for optical back-scatter in a degraded image. Among these three filters, the performance of BS-CostFunc filter is the best. The physical model of the optical extinction indicates that the optical extinction can be calculated by knowing the level of optical back-scatter. Results from simulations with synthetic images and experiments with real constrained images in monochrome indicate that the maximum optical back-scatter estimation error is less than 5%. The proposed algorithm can significantly improve the contrast of a monochrome underwater image. Results of colour simulations with synthetic colour images and experiments with real constrained colour images indicate that the proposed method is applicable to colour images with colour fidelity. However, for colour images in wide spectral bands, such as RGB, the colour of the improved images is similar to the colour of that of the reference images. Yet, the improved images are darker than the reference images in terms of intensity. The darkness of the improved images is because of the effect of noise on the level of estimation errors.
Date of Award31 Dec 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Oakley (Supervisor)


  • Underwater Image
  • Optical back-scatter
  • Image Enhancement
  • Contrast Loss

Cite this