Steve on Image Processing with MATLAB

Image processing concepts, algorithms, and MATLAB

MATLAB image display – autoscaling values with imshow

Last week I talked about displaying gray-scale and binary images. In that post, I showed how to control the grayscale range. For example, the call imshow(I,[0.4 0.6]) displays the matrix I as a gray-scale image so that the value 0.4 gets displayed as black, and the value 0.6 gets displayed as white.

Brett, a MathWorks application engineer and frequent File Exchange contributor, correctly pointed out that I neglected to discuss a common and useful syntax: imshow(I,[]). This syntax automatically determines the grayscale range of the display based on the minimum and maximum values of I. It is equivalent to imshow(I,[min(I(:)) max(I(:))]).

Here's an example. I have a matrix of terrain elevation values, in meters, near Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire, USA. The peak of Mt. Monadnock is about 960 meters.

load mt_monadnock

The matrix is stored in the MAT-file using the variable name Zc.

whos Zc
  Name         Size                 Bytes  Class     Attributes

  Zc        3042x3042            37015056  single              

ans =


ans =


To display these elevation values as a gray-scale image with autoscaling, just call imshow(Zc,[]):

Warning: Image is too big to fit on screen; displaying at 33% 

And, while we're here, I'll point out that you can install any colormap you like once a gray-scale image is displayed. Want some color?


Published with MATLAB® R2016a

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