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Forensic Photography Today

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 36 Issue: 3 Dated: (March 1988) Pages: 50-55
R E Mayer
Date Published
6 pages
This article defines forensic photography, describes the skills needed by forensic photographers, and discusses several new techniques in criminal evidence photography.
Forensic photography is defined as the discipline of using photography for both civil evidence documentation and criminal evidence photography. Having the ability to recreate the situation realistically and as it actually existed at a given point in time, and being capable of using a wide variety of equipment and light-sensitive materials to accurately record the scene or subject, are described as skills needed by forensic photographers. New techniques in criminal evidence photography include scanning light systems to obtain maximum depth of field and enhance poor quality images; photogrammery to determine the size or height of items within a single photographic image; enhancement of still images to de-blur and de-focus poor quality original images or remove background noise; contrast expansion or edge enhancement used to increase the legibility of signs, license plates or insignia for more positive identification; and auto radiography to obtain a usable negative from 'washed out' film. Highlights is a specialized technique used for automobile accident cases -- ultraviolet illumination under laboratory conditions to determine the speed of an automobile at the time of impact. In addition, techniques for videotaping and verifying videotaped evidence for use in court are described. A list of recommended courses to help forensic photographers learn about new techniques, is provided. Photographic illustrations.