Automatic Underwater Image Enhancement using Improved Dark Channel Prior

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Marco Block
Benjamin Gehmlich
Damian Hettmanczyk


Images taken under water are often of a monochromatic appearance, due to the physical interaction (absorption and reflection) between particles and light sources. Enhanced images with improved saturation, for which the monochromatic character has been corrected, are more suitable for generating 3D models and for identifying structures and materials by human experts. In this paper, we present an automatic method to identify the mean water color from a set of images. This mean color represents an average gray and is used to describe a new axis in CIELab color space. An extended color variance and a histogram equalization are simultaneously applied to the image. The main advantage of this method is the fully automatic enhancement process. An UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) can operate without providing a color reference scheme. The presented method was implemented in the software JEnhancer, which is freely available. JEnhancer was successfully tested in several documentation campaigns, and was integrated into the videogrammetric software pipeline Archaeo3D to produce 3D models from videos.


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How to Cite
Block, M., Gehmlich, B., & Hettmanczyk, D. (2017). Automatic Underwater Image Enhancement using Improved Dark Channel Prior. Studies in Digital Heritage, 1(2), 566-589.
Special Issue "Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 2016"
Author Biography

Marco Block, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Dresden University of Applied Sciences Dresden

Marco Block-Berlitz received both his first diploma in Computer Sciences (2004) and his PhD degree (2009) from Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (Department of Artificial Intelligence).
From 2009 to 2012 he taught Game Design and Development at Berlin’s Mediadesign Hochschule. Since 2012 he is a full professor for Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence at the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics of the University of Applied Sciences in Dresden, Germany.
As a computer scientist with a passion for archaeology and cultural heritage, Marco Block-Berlitz is committed to research on UAVs, UUVs and 4d data management  (, with a focus on low-cost and efficient 3d reconstruction. He has participated in several international excavation and survey projects, cooperating with a range of international professionals and institutions.
Marco Block-Berlitz has served as a committee member for several international conferences, including ICAISC, CHNT, CONCIBE, CGAMES, GAMEON-ARABIA, CGAT, GHTCE, CV, CGIM, AIA, CI, ICDS, ICCE-Berlin, ICCVE, ISIEA, GHTCE, ICCSII, ICCE, IBERAMIA, etc. and reviewer for international journals, including IJHCI, IMS, MVA, NCA, ITSMC, Autosoft Journal, e-gnosis, IARIA, etc. He received best paper awards at CONCIBE 2008, ICDS 2009 and CAA-DE 2016 and a best video award at CHNT 2014.