Working with Landsat Imagery

Table of Contents

  1. Working with Landsat Imagery
  2. Setting Up Your Workspace
  3. Downloading Data from the USGS Earth Explorer
  4. Creating New Imagery Files Using the Composite Bands Tool
  5. Creating True and False-Color Composites
  6. Skill Drill: Creating a Custom False-Color Composite

Creating New Imagery Files Using the Composite Bands Tool

Launch ArcMap and open a blank map document.

An image of the Windows 10 Start Menu
The actual version of ArcMap may vary over time.

Disable Background Geoprocessing

In the ArcGIS software, the Background Geoprocessing setting is often turned on by default. This setting allows users to continue to work while a tool is running in the background. However, sometimes this setting will stop tools from running or cause other unforeseen problems. To reduce that chances of the ArcGIS software crashing during this exercise, I recommend turning this setting off.

After launching ArcMap, open the Geoprocessing options from the Geoprocessing menu.

An image of the Geoprocessing Menu Geoprocessing options.
The Geoprocessing menu contains many useful shortcuts to frequently used tools.

Under Background Geoprocessing, uncheck the box next to the word Enable.

An image of the Geoprocessing Options window.
Disabling background geoprocessing sometimes makes the ArcGIS software more stable. Click to view the image in a larger size.

Locate the Composite Bands Tool in the ArcToolbox

In the Catalog Window, make a connection to your project folder. Do not add any data to the map. Instead, open the ArcToolbox. In ArcMap, click the toolbox button located on the Standard Menu. The icon looks like a red toolbox. The ArcToolbox may appear floating above the map. Dock to the side by dragging it to the left in a similar manner in which you docked the attribute table in previous activities. Expand the Data Management Tools. Next, expand the Raster toolbox, then Raster Processing. Locate the Composite Bands tool.

An image of the composite bands tool in raster processing toolbox
The Composite Bands tool is located in the Raster Processing toolbox.

Double click the Composite Bands tool. The tool will appear floating above the map. For the Input Raster, browse to your original folder. In this activity, you will only be working with bands 1 through 7. Choose the file that ends in B1 from the list. Then click Add.

An image of B1 selected
B1 stands for Band 1.

Click the yellow file folder icon to browse to the original folder again. Select the file that ends in B2. Hold down the shift key and select the file that ends in B7. All the data in between B2 and B7 should also become selected. When ready, click Add.

An image of b2 through b7 selected
Select multiple files by holding down the shift key.

For the Output Raster, browse to your working folder. Call the file “Vancouver.tif.”

Manually adding the .tif extension is necessary.

When ready, click OK.

An image of the composite bands settings in ArcMap.
Make sure your settings appear similar to the image shown here. Specific file names may vary.

Warning: The order in which you load the bands in the Composite Raster tool is essential. Make sure the bands are listed in the correct order (B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, B7).

It may take several minutes for the tool to complete. Be patient and do not click on ArcMap or the software may crash. When the Composite Bands tool completes, the Vancouver image gets added to the map. At first glance, the image may appear to have strange colors. You will make color corrections in the next step.

An image of the Vancouver composite added to the map
The Vancouver composite image is added to the map automatically. Click to view the image in a larger size.

Take a moment to save your map document. In a previous activity, you learn about setting the map document properties to store relative pathnames. Be sure this setting is turned on before you save. Give your map document a meaningful name, such as “Vancouver Map,” and save the file to your project folder.