Binary images are images whose pixels have only two possible intensity values. They are normally displayed as black and white. Numerically, the two values are often 0 for black, and either 1 or 255 for white.
Binary images are often produced by thresholding a grayscale or color image, in order to separate an object in the image from the background. The color of the object (usually white) is referred to as the foreground color. The rest (usually black) is referred to as the background color. However, depending on the image which is to be thresholded, this polarity might be inverted, in which case the object is displayed with 0 and the background is with a non-zero value.
Some morphological operators assume a certain polarity of the binary input image so that if we process an image with inverse polarity the operator will have the opposite effect. For example, if we apply a closing operator to a black text on white background, the text will be opened.
©2003 R. Fisher, S. Perkins,
A. Walker and E. Wolfart.