How to Analyze Scientific Images

Digital cameras are among the most important instruments in my science tool kit. They have provided thousands of images of twilight glows, solar aureoles, clouds, tree rings, insects, vegetation, bacteria and mold colonies, and much more.

Most images speak for themselves and need no more processing than that applied by your eyes and brain. But what if you want to extract data from images? Analytical studies of photographs require more than simply describing, say, the color of a leaf or the brightness of a sunset — they require numbers.

Prior to the digital era, scientists relied on instruments called densitometers to extract data from photographs. Transmission densitometers ...

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