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Elements of Image Interpretation

Updated on August 1, 2011
image interpretaion elements - arrangement
image interpretaion elements - arrangement


In day to day life we are expected to see so many types of images. For example in newspapers we see some types of images like photographs, weather information maps etc. But however all the images which we came to see will not be unique in their nature. Some of them may be very simple and some of them are very difficult to understand. Ex: we can easily understand the players playing football in an image and at the same time it is difficult to understand the satellite images printed to give us the information about weather report etc.

But however understanding of such images also very essential in our day to life. So for understanding such complex images sent to earth by satellites is possible by knowing some techniques which are called as image interpretation techniques. And these are having a lot of importance in dealing with remote sensing systems and remote sensing images.


Image interpretation can be defined as the art of examining the images and understanding them to obtain information from them. In simple we can say it as the process of understanding images and extracting the information from them.

remote sensing  image taken by nasa
remote sensing image taken by nasa

elements of image interpretation:

There are several elements an interpreter must consider in order to obtain a reliable and accurate information from the images. they include size, shape, tone, texture, pattern, shadow etc. And some of the elements are explained here for easy understanding about these elements and there are many other elements one has to consider for obtaining accurate information.

Size : SIze of an element is an important element in detecting the objects. If size of the element is not considered properly a residential house sometimes may be misunderstood as a barnyard. And hence size must be assessed carefully.

Shape : Shape of an element plays an important role in finding special shape buildings such as pentagon house.

Texture : texture is composed of the tonal variations in an image. Using the texture of image one can distinguish between a grassland and forest trees.

Pattern : The arrangement of elements in an image is called pattern. For example the trees in an orchard will be in a regular pattern than in a forest. using the pattern one can distinguish between an orchard and a forest.

Shadow : Shadow of an element gives its shape. However some times it acts as hindrance in detecting other objects.

Tone : with out tonal variations one cannot distinguish various aspects such as pattern, shape etc. Hence colour is an important parameter.

Thus there are so many parameters one has to consider for successful interpretation of the image. However the interpretation success mainly depends on the knowledge, skill and experience of the interpreter. Because a novice interpreter may misjudge various elements where an expert can easily deal with the. Thus experience also plays a key role in assessing the various elements of image interpretation.


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    • srinivas2036 profile image

      srinivas2036 5 years ago from tirupathi

      carcro, thanks for commenting . And yes u are right its some times difficult to intrpret. and the ease of interpretation depends on nature and quality of image.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      That's something I never really thought about before, when looking at images. You're right that sometimes its really difficult to interpret what I'm looking at, this really helps. Thanks for the info.