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separating layers in a photo


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#1 ArthurScully

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 11:20 AM

Hello, I am a working on a research wildlife research project which employs camera traps.  The camera traps have the option to have an information strip put on each photo.  This sometimes blocks important parts of the photo.  I initially thought it was below the photo but I realized that when the photo is a thumbnail in a folder (to small to make out what is in the photo) or I am cycling quickly through the photos in photo viewer software (to quickly to make out what is in the photo) the strip disappears and what is underneath it is visible. It is obviously two layers in the same photo. I want to know if there is a way to separate them.  I have spoken to representatives from the company and asked around before posting to this site, but no one has any useful information.  I hope that the expertise here at Bleeping Computer will have some guidance to fixing this issue.  [/size]
Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing your responses,[/size]
Arthur [/size]

Edited by Queen-Evie, 22 October 2015 - 02:49 PM.
moved from Photo Albums, Images, and Videos to the appropriate forum


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#2 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 23 October 2015 - 07:14 PM

First of all - welcome to BC !

 

What sort of cameras are you using and what type of image are they producing ?  Most camera systems produce images of the JPEG type, these typically have the extension after the file name of '.jpg'. A number of high end cameras can produce images in the RAW format.

 

JPEGs are single layer images, as are RAW types so there are no layers to separate. I very seldom use the RAW setting on my own Nikon but it does allow a tremendous amount of image enhancement. I just fired off a couple of images to test and my graphics processing software shows only one layer. I use Serif's PhotoPlus, a product very similar to Adobe's Photoshop.

 

I suspect what you are seeing, or rather not seeing, is an effect of the thumbnail creation or rapid viewing process. The only way to remove such a data strip - a date/time stamp for example - is to overpaint it pixcel by pixcel in the colour you think should be there. That is fine and acceptable for 'artistic' photos, like some I had to deal with from a friend's 60th anniversary dinner, but is almost certainly not acceptable for images of a technical or scientific nature.

 

While there are definite advantages to having data like a date/time stamp on photos for some purposes I think if you want full unobstructed images you will need to turn it off.

 

Chris Cosgrove



#3 ArthurScully

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 11:49 AM

Thank you for your reply, I want to make sure we are on the same page though.  When I rapidly view or have them in thumbnail format what I see is what is behind the datastrip, the actual ground, rocks and vegetation, it is very clear as I go through the photos quickly.  

 

When you say what I am not seeing, do you mean when I am not seeing the data strip or that you think I am not actually seeing what is below the data strip.  If you are saying that I am not seeing what is below the data strip, that I simply think I am, you are very much like everyone else I have explained this problem to until they actually see the photos as I go through them.  It seems that if I am going through them quickly the data strip takes more time to load onto the picture than the picture takes time to load showing exactly what is below the data strip. Everyone who has seen this in person concedes that the full image (without the data strip) exists in the jpeg format with an overlaid data strip.  This makes me believe that somewhere in the code there should be a way to remove the data strip. 

 

Believe me when I say I am not upset if you don't understand my issue or you believe that I don't understand it and I am not trying to be defensive. Just also understand I have had professors, state biologists, and other graduate students all look at this issue and say "yep, the whole photo is there, but I have no idea how to get that data strip off."  I only want to be able to best explain the issue.

 

Thank you,

Arthur



#4 ArthurScully

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 12:08 PM

I have uploaded a video of the photos being rapidly gone through to show how the data strip is covering what is below the photos.  Here is a link https://youtu.be/h0n9Ozjm9tQ


Edited by ArthurScully, 27 October 2015 - 12:14 PM.


#5 violetrose

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 04:37 PM

There will be instructions in the user manual for the particular brand of camera trap you are using. If your camera trap was set up with the option to record the information strip then, no, I doubt if you will be able to remove it - next time re-set the option to off. Best wishes with your project. 

 

For general interest in what 'camera traps' are:

 

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/species/camera_traps/

 

Cheers :)



#6 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 04:46 PM

I have gone through this video several times running it as slow as YouTube will let me and pausing play to try and trap the sharpest images.

 

In the sharper frames, the data strip is visible, in the blurred frames it isn't, as you have noticed. But what I also noticed was that in the blurred frames - where the data strip is not visible - the image appears slightly larger and I think it is sufficiently large enough that the data strip is not being shown. It is after all a fairly narrow strip along the bottom of the image.

 

I agree with your statement that the data strip is overlaid on the image in the camera, but once it is overlaid it becomes part of the image and the two are merged into one image with only one layer which means that there is no way to separate them. For an example of what I mean, I can generate a compound image in the graphics software I use with multiple layers and up to the point where I merge the layers I can re-order them, delete them or add to them. But once I merge the layers that's it - it becomes a single layer image and I can no longer change the layers.

 

It is possible to remove such overprinting, as in the example below, but this is done by changing the colour information in the relevant pixcels and this would not be acceptable in a scientific/technical image.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/evii1lo59ign3yk/Before%20and%20after.jpg?dl=0

 

Chris Cosgrove



#7 ArthurScully

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 04:59 PM

Thank you so much Chris, I really feel like you understand the issue and thus have given the best information possible.  

 

Please look again at the video though, when the strip is not visible you can see well below the branch of the pine tree on the right hand side, this is not visible when the data strip is there.  I can guarantee that the data strip is actually disappearing in these photos when I am going through them the photo is not just re-sizing and excluding that section.

 

I agree that if that is the only way to separate the overprinting is to change the color information that would render the photographs useless for data.  

 

I appreciate all the feedback!

-Arthur Scully


Edited by ArthurScully, 02 November 2015 - 05:01 PM.


#8 ArthurScully

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Posted 02 November 2015 - 05:46 PM

Ok Chris and anyone else who may be reading this, just to make sure that you know what I am talking about I took a video of the way that the data strip appears on the thumb nails so that you could see that there is actually photo behind the data strip when it isn't blurry.   You should be able to see that there are definitely two seperate layers that can be viewed seperately in one file, though I don't know if there is any way to remove them from one another.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR07TIsZyfk

 

Also, here is the photo (MFDC 0559) shown at full size to show that the info strip is covering the area which is initially not covered in the thumbnail (look at the black rock on the bottom) but is covered when the strip appears.12194777_1664756623791531_55591961595590


Edited by ArthurScully, 03 November 2015 - 11:14 AM.


#9 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 05:47 PM

Sorry not to get back when I hoped to, it has been a fairly wearing week !

 

Your second video shows what you are talking about much more clearly than the first one, and I agree - your eyes are not deceiving you. In each image you can see that black lump you call a rock get covered up as the data strip appears. How this is happening escapes me, but it certainly does seem as though it is a separate layer in which case it should be possible to remove it.

 

The image you included in your last post has a JPEG type file extension and since JPEGs do not support multiple layers there is no way to remove it. Would it be possible for you to upload an original image to one of the many free hosting sites and post the link here - Google, MS oneDrive, Dropbox - whatever is convenient. I'll have a look and see if I can do anything with the original without getting 'creative' as I did with the wedding anniversary photos.

 

One of them was even worse than the one I took the samples from - it was held in a Scottish hotel - one of the photos had a tartan carpet as part of the background !

 

Chris Cosgrove



#10 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 07:17 PM

Thank you for sending me the original image, I have had some fun playing with it but I regret to say I am no further forward in understanding what is happening in your thumbnail viewer.

 

I opened it in my main image processing software - Serif PhotoPlus - and as I expected even saving it as a PhotoPlus type file I could only find one layer. I could create a layer consisting of the black data strip at the bottom easy enough. I tried first by cutting the strip and pasting as new layer. This allowed me to move it around quite freely but the space in the image where it had been just showed the transparent background.

 

Copying and pasting as new layer gave me a black strip I could move around but - naturally - left the original one in its original place at the bottom of the folder. In the bottom section of the right hand panel you will see these two layers shown quite clearly.

 

Looking at the screenshot, below, you will see I then applied various erase tools to the two strips, as much out of curiosity as any thing else. In the upper black strip, which is layer 1, you can quite clearly see the original image where I have erased it. In the lower one, which is part of the original image although labelled 'Layer 2', there is nothing except the transparent base behind the erased section.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8c6m8qatnt09wg6/Cow%20photo.jpg?dl=0

 

To sum up. Your original JPEG is a single layer image and I can find no way of lifting the black strip off to reveal the image data it is covering. How to square this with what is quite clearly visible in your second video I have no idea, but from your original post it seems I am in good company !

 

All I can say is that this strip is a relatively narrow section at one edge of the image, covering about 6% of the total frame. Since you normally try to centre the camera's viewfield on the main point of interest is the edge really significant ?  One other outside possibility - is it possible to set the camera just to record the text by itself, instead of superimposed on this black strip ?

 

Chris Cosgrove



#11 ArthurScully

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 12:44 PM

Thanks for your time and effort into this issue.  I hope that someday I can figure this issue out.  As you pointed out, in 99.9% of the photos this information strip is not blocking pertinent information, but sometimes (include one very irritating set) it is blocking the most important part of the photo.   Conversely in 100% of the photos the information on the strip is important so I will not stop the camera from putting it on.

 

Thanks again.

-Arthur



#12 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 05:39 PM

I am not denying the importance of date/time stamp data like this. Once upon a fair time ago, as a trainee in a law enforcement section, I failed to get a  photographer to record this data for my boss and got handed my head in my hands !

 

All I said was is it possible to merely record the text of the data without that black strip ?  If you look again at the image I recorded as 'Before and after' this is only text even though a horribly bright orange colour !  Definitely not what you want all over photos of your 60th Anniversary dinner photos, but the same text you have in all these images without the black strip would still present the information but with virtually all the image information visible.

 

Might be worth talking to your camera techs about it.

 

Chris Cosgrove






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