Overcome Washed-Out Element in Digital Photograph

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by I5wwg, Nov 6, 2018 at 8:44 AM.

  1. I5wwg

    I5wwg TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    Brand new guy here who needs advice.

    One of my trail cams took several late-night photos of a vehicle, the license plate of which is completely washed out. (I presume this is due to the "reflection" from the IR elements.)

    I would dearly love to reveal the plate number but do not know how to do that.

    I have at my disposal several image-editing tools: Irfanview, FastStone Image Viewer, GIMP, LightBox Free Image Editor, Paint.net, PhotoFiltre and Photoscape. I'm guessing that either GIMP or Paint.net would be the tools most likely to help me with my issue.

    It's not a problem to upload one or more of the photos, or to grab another program that can do the job.

    My undying gratitude would be yours forever for helping me uncover the plate number.

    Thank you.

    P.S. By the way, I'm open to suggestions to help me avoid such washed-out elements in such photos in the future. The cam has always been a good one, but I've just not had such a situation before.


     
  2. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    More information is needed. Show us and tell us. For starters:
    Show us image.
    Tell us original image type/format.
    Tell us camera make/model.

    Joe
     
  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    For any attempt at recovery in this case, you will need to transmit the original file to someone who offers to give it a try.

    As to how to avoid that in the future, you will need to position the flash apart from the lens. This usually means hooking an auxiliary flash via some cable or RF trigger and disabling the built-in flash. What you want is the light from the flash to illuminate your subject at a different angle, so you don't get that bright reflection. (as in license plates for instance, or even animal eyes)
     
  4. I5wwg

    I5wwg TPF Noob!

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    Ok...sadly, that's not an option in this particular case. But thanks for the tip.
     
  5. I5wwg

    I5wwg TPF Noob!

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    1) I have uploaded an image. There were several with the license plate, but this one appears to me to be the least-washed-out; I can certainly upload others.

    2) I have uploaded a screen pic of the "Properties" tab of the other photo I uploaded. Hopefully this will give you the necessary information.

    3) The camera is a PROOF Generation 2 Primos 12MP trail camera (#64054 - Proof Cam 01). I've uploaded a screen pic of the "Technical Specifications" page from the user's manual. Hopefully this will be of use.

    Thank you.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That camera has a fairly open aperture, short length (similar to wide angle lenses), and a relatively slow shutter speed. That combination could let in more light than the type lenses used with DSLRs that could be adjusted for the existing light. That's probably why the light from the headlights and taillights in particular caused the license plate (which is probably a light color and reflective) to be 'blown out'.

    I've photographed backlit signs and marquees etc. and usually needed to adjust the aperture accordingly. It doesn't seem like this type camera/lens can do that. I'm not sure how comparable trail cameras are to security cameras but images from those seem to provide 'soft' and digitally 'noisy' images that can be hard to make out.

    I'm not sure if more detail could be recovered or not; it would depend on what was actually recorded.
     
  7. I5wwg

    I5wwg TPF Noob!

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    I'm not feeling hopeful. But I am going to again go through the manual for the camera, and maybe play with some setting(s) over the coming nights to see if some helpful adjustments can be made. I'll also see if a forum exists for this particular brand of trail cams; if so, perhaps someone over there has an idea or three.

    My only real concern is that tweaking settings (if even possible) over the coming nights may prevent me from figuring out this vehicle's purpose, presuming it reappears. As it is, that same truck (I'm pretty certain) was photographed last evening; no big deal. But to arrive at about 2:30 am today is a bit unsettling. Weapons are at the ready, but they won't be much help if I'm asleep....

    Thanks.
     
  8. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Maybe you'll need to consider other options than the camera... don't know how much property you have but was wondering if something like that was the concern. Do you have lights that are movement activated? I know people with farms etc. around here that have those (although I'd find them annoying since they seem to go off if a squirrel goes by or leaves are blowing). I have a spotlight in back but rarely use it (and it's usually been a possum etc. back there). Hope you can find a way to deal with a 2 am intruder, stay safe.
     
  9. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Looks blown out to me. Unfortunatley that would mean that the numberplate is so bright it's outside of the range of light and darks your camera could capture at the settings used for the picture and therfore no data has been recorded.

    Try reducing the exposure in faststone, if the numberplate stays white you are out of luck as there's no data there to be recovered.
     
  10. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There is NO information in the washed out area, sorry.
    I could see the truck had wide trailer mirrors and the bumper and the back window have no stickers or any other identifying marks.
    The trail cameras are using infrared light and that is highly reflective. If you could put another camera off at a right angle and cover the infrared lights on this camera you may get the tag. I'd suggest using a tag and doing some tests until you get something that works.
     
  11. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    All I see is 255:255:255.
     
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  12. I5wwg

    I5wwg TPF Noob!

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    Thank you to everyone for all the feedback.

    I've spoken with CS at Primos (the cam maker) and they have no suggestions for settings on the cam that might help, given that it's design is for capturing nature, as it were, not Ford 4x4 trucks in the dead of night. Also, in reviewing the manual for the cam, I noted a line about washouts being due, at least in some cases, to the cam being too close to the object. Of course, "too close" is a somewhat relative term. I'm not sure how far away I'd have to be to in order to have a readable plate under these same conditions.

    Attempts at modifying the image using one of the many related programs I have installed were unsuccessful. I still want to see if gimp can have an affect, so I hope to connect with some experienced gimp users to get their thoughts.

    I actually have several extra license plates (don't ask...lol) and might actually see what I can come up with. (Specifically as to my comment in the last of the first paragraph.)

    The big logistical problem I have is WHERE to put the cam. At the moment, the cam is setup so as to be hidden from view when one is coming towards the property. This is done for (I hope) obvious reasons. And in its present location, it should not be noticed when leaving the property. And it's also very close to the ground.

    SIGH

    Well, I guess some testing is in order.

    In the meantime I've switched the cam to video mode to see what difference, if any, that has on exposures.

    Again, thanks to everyone for the feedback; very much appreciated.
     

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