The identification of the spatial characteristics and the shedding frequencies of coherent structures in shallow flows usually involves the use of sophisticated equipment for velocity measurements such as laser Doppler anemometry or particle image velocimetry. In this work, a simple and low-cost alternative for the quantitative characterization of quasi two-dimensional shallow coherent structures is presented. The technique is based on the image pre-processing of flow visualizations and post-processing by means of the proper orthogonal decomposition. As an illustration of the method, the analysis of a shallow flow in the wake of a cylinder with a vortex-street pattern is presented. The method is able to discriminate concentration patches attached to the vortices and their advection, providing frequencies in excellent agreement with a previous study.