Real-time visualization of low contrast targets from high-dynamic range infrared images based on temporal digital detail enhancement filter

Frederic Garcia*, Cedric Schockaert, Bruno Mirbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


An image detail enhancement method to effectively visualize low contrast targets in high-dynamic range (HDR) infrared (IR) images is presented regardless of the dynamic range width. In general, high temperature dynamics from real-world scenes used to be encoded in a 12 or 14 bits IR image. However, the limitations of the human visual perception, from which no more than 128 shades of gray are distinguishable, and the 8-bit working range of common display devices make necessary an effective 12/14 bits HDR mapping into the 8-bit data representation. To do so, we propose to independently treat the base and detail image components that result from splitting the IR image using two dedicated guided filters. We also introduce a plausibility mask from which those regions that are prominent to present noise are accurately defined to be explicitly tackled to avoid noise amplification. The final 8-bit data representation results from the combination of the processed detail and base image components and its mapping to the 8-bit domain using an adaptive histogram-based projection approach. The limits of the histogram are accommodated through time in order to avoid global brightness fluctuations between frames. The experimental evaluation shows that the proposed noise-aware approach preserves low contrast details with an overall contrast enhancement of the image. A comparison with widely used HDR mapping approaches and runtime analysis is also provided. Furthermore, the proposed mathematical formulation enables a real-time adjustment of the global contrast and brightness, letting the operator adapt to the visualization display device without nondesirable artifacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number061103
JournalJournal of Electronic Imaging
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • contrast enhancement
  • detail enhancement
  • high-dynamic-range
  • human perception
  • infrared images
  • low-dynamic-range
  • noise removal
  • time filtering


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