Is it possible to read the plates in this photo?
August 17, 2009 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to read the plates in this photo?

I played with color, contrast, sharpen, and a few plugins but cant see the plate number. I can see a 5 for the first digit, but thats about it. Im guessing that there's too much distortion and reflection to make out what it is, but perhaps a photoshop expert here can figure it out. FWIW, this is a photo of a thief getting away.
posted by damn dirty ape to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was able to get this, but all I can see is the first digit.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:42 PM on August 17, 2009

It's not going to happen from that picture.
posted by glider at 6:43 PM on August 17, 2009

Doesn't look like it. However, there are some distinguishing features of the car (aside from its color, make, and model, of course). Maybe you could drive around the area and see if you can spot it?
posted by nitsuj at 6:47 PM on August 17, 2009

You could generate every possible license plate and blur them in a similar manner and see what looks similar.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:47 PM on August 17, 2009

Oh, and they're most definitely Florida plates, FWIW.
posted by nitsuj at 6:48 PM on August 17, 2009

Here's my (pretty quick) attempt at it in photoshop: Fun with photoshop.

In addition to your 5 as the first number, I think I see a 2 at the end. Possibly a T before the 2, and possibly an F (or T) after the 5, which would make it possibly "5F(?) (?)T2" if it's a regular Florida plate with 6 characters.
posted by That takes balls. at 8:23 PM on August 17, 2009

FWIW, the first character looks like a 6 to me, not 5.
posted by bengarland at 8:38 PM on August 17, 2009

Something seems off in the photo. Those numbers should not be that hard to read. The street sign has letters that are the same size or smaller and they are clearly legible. That Florida license plate should have dark green letters on white, which should at least have better contrast than seen in the photo.
posted by smackfu at 10:12 PM on August 17, 2009

Also, do you have the original to play with? The ringing on the edges makes it seem like the source already had unsharp mask run on it.
posted by smackfu at 10:13 PM on August 17, 2009

If it should be an all-digits plate I personally think that the first three are "564", maybe "5G4" and I agree with Ttb that the last one is a "2". Here are the variations I ran:

Unfocused, color inverted
Unfocused, alternately sharpened and changed the color curve a few times
Unfocused, sharpened-color-curved, color inverted
Unfocused, sharpened-color-curved, neon edge detect

I don't have Photoshop. The unfocus was done with Focus Magic, which has a trial version and a tutorial on working on license plates. The sharpen and color stuff I did with Paint.Net. Neon edge detection is in GIMP.

If there's a more virgin / original image you definitely should post it.

Also, I read recently that digital cameras have a "fingerprint" of uneven quality of the elements in the image sensor, so if this isn't an already-retouched image I wonder if the unevenness in the blur over the plate is related to that. I wonder if you could get several images from the same camera, derive the fingerprint from them, and somehow use that to correct this image.
posted by XMLicious at 11:03 PM on August 17, 2009

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