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Elements of Visual Image Interpretation

elements of visual image interpretation

Visual image interpretation is an intensive study that trainers use in multiple fields. It requires a lot of training to be able to extract factual information from an image. This study is used in various areas like defense, planning of urban and regional settlement, agricultural and forestry purposes, studying the ocean, geological and geographical research, conserve natural resources, etc. It is a vast subject that requires intensive knowledge and the ability to interpret an image. It is a process of analyzing the characteristics visible on the image. Meanwhile, experts utilize their interpretation skills to convert them into information, which they share with others for further decision-making.

The main task in visual image interpretation is to identify the required characteristics. In this process of identification, the essential elements of visual image interpretation are used. Though experts use the elements professionally at the time of examining images, similarly, we tend to use these in our daily life also like shapes, sizes, textures, tones, colors, heights, etc. Hence, if you are thinking about which of the following is not an element of visual image interpretation, you might not find any.

The Basic Visual Elements


The tone is the brightness of an object or its color. It is the fundamental element of visual image interpretation. For colored images, brightness or color of the object and for black and white images defines the tone, the shades of grey define the tone. It may vary depending upon the reflection of light from the objects present in the image.


This size is the second most crucial element of visual image interpretation. With this, we can distinguish between different objects displayed on the images. Moreover, if we can find out the size of a single object, we can use the information to judge other objects about their sizes. With the help of size, we can measure the length, width of the area.


The shape is another distinctive characteristic that can help in differentiating objects displayed on the image. It acts as an outline for a particular object. Similarly, geometric shapes with straight edge depict residential areas while those shapes, which are irregular, depicts natural objects like forests. Circular shapes indicate agricultural lands. Water bodies like ponds and lakes appear circular. Shapes are beneficial in identifying objects visible on images.


The texture is the placement of color and tone in areas on an image. It depicts the smoothness and roughness of a particular area. Texture measures how often the tones’ placements change in an image. Hence, expressed in qualitative terms. For example, water bodies and grassy areas appear to be smooth. However, forests and places with many trees appear to be coarse.


A pattern describes how few objects have placed themselves geographically on a certain area in an image. It is related to the terrain of the landscape. Experts identify this with the help of the textures and tones visible on the image repeatedly at a particular zone. For example, houses are spaced at even intervals, in residential areas. Another example is orchids, where the trees and plants grow at equal intervals. These are examples of patterns.


Shadow is another essential element that helps in determining the characteristics features of the objects displayed on the image. It helps in estimating the height of a particular object. Additionally, the longer the shadow of the target, the longer its height will be compared to the other objects around it. Similarly, the same theory goes for smaller objects, which have shorter shadows.


The association helps in interpreting an object that may have similar attributes to that of other objects. Through this element, we can identify a particular target based on the feature of its surroundings. For example, if we are trying to determine whether a specific area is for commercial purposes or residential purposes, the best way is to look for playgrounds and schools. Furthermore, grounds and schools are usually located in residential areas. Therefore, with the presence or absence of these features, you can determine whether it is a residential or commercial area.

These are only a few among the list of different elements. Finally, you cannot identify which of the following is not an element of visual image interpretation.

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