An automated method and apparatus are disclosed for detecting the irradiation field of a radiographic image, wherein digital image data is acquired and subjected to multiple phases of digital imaging processes. The image is first acquired by a radiation image recording apparatus through a landmark-synthesizing device that generates landmark patterns on the acquired image. These patterns are indicative of where the irradiation field is located, and are subsequently detected by digital image processing techniques. Next, the irradiation field is robustly and efficiently identified through these landmark patterns. An irradiation map is then created that functions as a template for any further image processing to be done on the irradiation field. Once the irradiation field is identified, the landmark patterns are removed from the acquired image using digital image processing techniques if desired. Finally, a mask image is generated to reduce the flare effect of the output image in areas that have received very little radiation, making the output image both diagnostically useful and aesthetically pleasing.