Forensic Photography Keith A. Milligan English Composition II Sarah Bowman April 26, 2010 In todays world, crime scene investigation has become a very intricate part of solving crimes. With all the television shows centered on crime scene investigators, as well as forensics, the whole country is infatuated with murders and crime scenes. However, just how many people know the details of an actual crime scene investigation? Does anyone know the tools used by the professionals? One intricate detail to investigating the scene of a crime is photography.
Without the use of photos, a crime scene nvestigation may never get solved. Photography plays a very delicate part to the crime scene itself. Forensic photography is defined as the art of producing an accurate reproduction of an accident scene for the benefit of a court or to aid in the investigation. (“Forensic Photography,” 2009) One may assume the only equipment needed is a camera, however this is incorrect. What other equipment is needed? The amount of equipment is phenomenal, to say the least. Even the most basic list of equipment is quite lengthy.
Not to mention, the price of this equipment can reach xtraordinary amounts, which the photographer is responsible for. Although it is not uncommon for the specific police departments to have this equipment on hand for the photographer already, but an individual still may be responsible for obtaining their own equipment in other agencies. Of course, you need a camera, but what kind? Your basic camera begins with the 35mm, preferably from the manufacturers Canon, Nikon, or Olympus. The price of these cameras can range from $50. 00-$600. 00, new or used. You need numerous different types of lenses to compliment you camera.
The normal lens for a 35mm camera is a 50mm lens, which has a price range of $140- $1000. 00. Next, is the 28mm wide angle lens, as well as, the numerous accessories. These are Just a few of the tools needed to get started. In 2002, the age of digital photography made its way to the United States. Digital photography has grown at such a rapid rate all over the world. There are all types of digital photographs being taken today. Whether it be a quick snap shot with the camera on a cell phone or webcam to send to family and friends, to the most intricate photos ever taken.
The world had gone digital and its here to stay, with improvements coming almost daily. Technology does not get one wink of sleep. It is forever moving along with major advancements constantly. It is conceivable to think that the digital age would eliminate original photography methods, Just as the worlds would think that compact discs would eliminate vinyl records, however neither has happened. Digital photography has taken the world of forensic science to a whole new level, as well as improved crime scene investigation tremendously.
Although digital photography is aking law enforcement Jobs easier, it is not smiled upon greatly as of yet, but needed for digital cameras and that amounts to decreased cost and time, as well as, instant access to the images and rapid transportability of pictures within a department or to an outside agency. One of the biggest problems within crime scene investigations and digital photos is the admissibility of said photos in court. Because of the fact that digital photos can be manipulated and tampered with, it makes the court question the authenticity of the photos.
Even film-based photos can be anipulated as well. The general public even questions digital photos because the photos can be altered so easily over film-based photos. The number of software products available on the market to alter digital photos is growing. Software such as Photoshop by Adobe is the most popular. It allows a person to alter and change digital photos to however the person wants the photo. So many different features allow changing of the background, the color of clothing, or even changing the facial expression of a subject is possible through photo software.
The case of Almond v. State handled by the Georgia Supreme Court has dealt directly with the admissibility of digital photographs (Nagosky, 2005). Almond question the authenticity of the submitted digital photos, however the court had proven authenticity by the prosecution that the photos were indeed fair and truthful depiction of the evidence the photos withheld (Nagosky, 2005). The court also went on to state that there was no known authority on the procedure for admission of digital photos being any different than those of film-based photos (Nagosky, 2005).
By following a reliable rocess that demonstrates the integrity of photos and preserving the photos are Just two recommendations for agencies to insure the admissibility of digital photos into court cases (Nagosky, 2005). One of the best ways to preserve and prevent manipulation is for agencies to immediately store digital images on a CDR, then label the disc with the date, time, and place the picture was taken as well as, the name of the individual that took the photos, and any information associated with the images instead of a CD-RW.
CDR’S are a compact disc that can only be written to once and hen read, however CD-RW’S can be rewritten and altered after images are added to the disc (Nagosky, 2005). Once images are written to a CDR, they cannot be removed or altered without copying the original (Nagosky, 2005). Now that it is known how to ensure the admissibility of digital images into court, continue on to look at how photos, whether film-based or digital, actually help aid the crime scene investigation.
To understand where and how the crime was committed through the use of photographs at a violent crime scene, the Job is to the gain the maximum amount of useful information. There is an abundance of information that photos will give you within a crime scene. Once a crime scene is established, photos need to be taken immediately of the area. The number of photos taken for any particular crime scene can be as high as 1500 or more in many instances, depending on what particular crime has been committed. There is a distinct way photos should be taken.
Not only do the photos give you a general idea of the location and the surrounding areas, it gives investigators a virtual timeline of the events that may have happen. Overlapping photos of the entire crime scene is a must. Photos need to be taken from various different angles and closeness. To enable the viewer of the photos to gain a general idea of where each object or area interrelates to another, close-up, long is the last time the crime scene will ever appear as you found it, so document it thoroughly.
The photographs need to accomplish five things: supply documentary evidence; verify witnesses’ testimony; supply the source material for expert analysis and reconstruction; record the scene with your point of view, advancing your analysis; and re-create the scene for the Jury’ (Garrett, 2003, Photograph section, para ). It is recommended when using digital photography, try to use a camera that records at a resolution of three megapixels, or better (Garrett, 2003). Garrett (2003) states that he has conducted experiments that show this resolution will provide the detail necessary to verify your reconstruction.
If the photographer has done his Job, correctly, numerous other investigators involved with the crime will not even have to enter the crime scene at all, which also enhances the investigation. Because the least amount of people on a crime scene, the less probability of the scene being tampered ith or altered. Dalrymple, Shaw, and Woods (2002) states that the photographer faces numerous challenges in the quest to record the crime scene, such as, taking pictures of things that ordinarily wouldn’t be thought to be necessary to take photographs of, such as, fingerprints, footprints and other problematic areas.
Dalrymple et al. (2002) also says that an experienced photographer can use conventional photographic procedures to record evidence, by using different lighting, filters, and different tilt and swing camera movements to obtain suitable recordings of the crime scene The workings of rime scene photography can get very detailed, depending on the crime committed, as well as the location. The evidence photographer is faced with a wide range of photographic challenges at crime scenes.
This was simply an introduction into the world of crime scene photography and forensic evidence. The amount of equipment the photographer needs in his day to day Job description is overwhelming. The issue and debate of digital photos, compare to film-based photos may be argued for years before a conclusion is reached. However, great strides have been made to move along as technology advances. When thinking of photos being taken, the inner workings of photography are not often taken in to consideration.