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TITLE : Forensic Photography

COURSE : Criminal Investigation Course


The criminalist and investigator could not rely on their memories in which
photograph would serve as a sort of artificial memory for them. Remembering all the
things they had examined or investigated would be impossible after several years
before the case is presented in court. They need and preserved the things they had
examined and investigated for future references and court presentation.
Photography can be used for identification, record, preservation and substitution
of evidence of a crime. It can discover things which could not be seen by the naked eye
as photography extends man’s visual limitation take for instance an obliterated writings,
written words under super imposed ink which on the same in color to the eye could be
separated and shown singly by infrared photography. Object hidden in boxes and other
container may be detected and identified by X-ray photography. The writing chemically
erased can be restored by ultra-violet photography.
Photography is one of the fastest mean of preserving the physical appearance of
an object or evidence such injuries sustain by victim or suspect which may change as
time goes by. It also help the Judges and lawyers to easily appreciate how the crime
look like without going to the crime scene which may have different view as compared
to the time the incident happened. It help illustrate how an object look like without
having going to explain by eye witnesses on how it look like as to the color, shape,
extend of damage, size etc.


1. Definition of Terms
Photography – Is derived from the Greek words, photos- which means light and
graphy which means – to draw.
It is defined as a science or an art of process of producing images of
objects by the action of light on sensitized surface with the aid of an image-forming
device known as camera and its accessories and the chemical process involved therein.
Forensic – is derived from the word forum- which means place for legal debate.
Forensic Photography – deals with the study of notion of photography, its
application to law enforcement work and the preparation of photographs for court
Photograph – is the mechanical result of photography. To produce a photograph,
light is needed aside from sensitized materials (film and paper).
Camera – a light tight box; with a lens to form an image; with a shutter and
diaphragm to control the entry of the image; a means of holding a film to record the
image/ and a viewer or viewfinder to show the photographer what the image is.

To unidentified cadavers. It is the making of enlarge copies of prints such as photographs of tampered serial number of firearms. ASA – stands for American Standard Association. The hole or opening in a camera lens through which light passes to expose the film. Aperture/ f-stop – a lens opening. DIN – a numerical rating used to describe the emulsion speed or light sensitivity of German made films. engine number and chassis number of motor vehicle and the like. Angle of view exceeds 75 degrees. right and left side views. Angle of view is determined by the focal length of the lens. At present. The main purpose of photographing ultra-violet photography is to provide information about an object or materials. Zoom Lens – Lenses which allow the user to continuously vary the focal length without changing the focus. 2. Elements of Photography . the organization which rates film speed is the ISO (International Standard Organization). A number which represents a film’s sensitivity to light. Macro Photography – is photographing of object at greater that 1:1 ratio up to nine (9) times magnification. include marks on the victim’s body especially tattoo/scar for identification. Ultra-Violet Photography – is the art or process of photographing unseen objects by the naked eye with the use of ultra-violet rays and filters. it is 18 degrees. Angle of view – the amount of area visible when looking through a lens. Single-Lens-Reflex (SLR) Camera – a type of camera that allows the photographer to see through the camera’s lens when viewing through the viewfinder. Normal Focal Length – A lens which has a focal length approximately equal to but not more than twice the length of the diagonal of the negative material. The size of aperture is either fixed or adjustable. half body. for a 28 mm wide angle lens. Infra-Red Photography – is the art or process of photographing or recording unseen objects by the naked eye by means of infra-red light. which cannot be obtained by ordinary photo methods. Micro Photography – is the art or process of photographing minutes objects and magnified by means of the microscope and enlarge from 10 times up. Film – a cellulose tape embedded with sensitized solution capable of recording images thru light. and two quarter views. Angle of view exceeds 75 degrees but not less than 45 degrees. Depth of Field – the distance between the nearest and the farthest objects in apparent sharp focus when the lens is focused at a given point. it is 75 degrees. for a 135 mm telephoto lens. Mug-shot – is the process of taking photographs of the suspect/s in full length. Long or Telephoto Lens – A lens which has a focal length equal to more than twice the diagonal of the negative material. The angle of view for a standard 50 mm lens is approximately 47 degrees. Angle of view less than 45 degrees. Perturb size is marked in f-stops. Wide Angle Lens – A lens which has a focal length less than the diagonal of its material. An early organization or group that determines the numerical ratings for film speed. Lens – a medium or system which converges or diverges light passing thru it to form images. Deutche Industries Norm (DIN).

objects photographed. name of investigator. principally daylight. name of photographer. the significance of certain aspects of the crime scene may not be evident. date. 3. In addition. photographs must stand the test of legal admissibility. incident. the photographs will make the job of the prosecutor much easier when a case is presented in a court room. a Object . The film should be removed from the camera and taken directly to processing unless some secure facility is available for overnight storage.See definition d Sensitized Materials . its electronic memory. When necessary. b Significance of certain aspects of the crime scene In the initial stages of an investigation. c Reconstruction of the crime scene A study of photograph can also assist the trained investigator in reconstructing the crime scene and developing conclusions about how the crime occurred. now on digital. Written report on the proper chain of custody of photographic evidence. the judge or jury may disregard this most important evidence under the theory that the film may have been tampered with (Take statement of person who processed the film if different person process it indicating that it was processed in normal procedure). c Camera . If this does not occur. Uses of Photography in Crime Investigation a Identification of the subject We produce pictorial record of everything regarding the crime to include the nearby surroundings. camera used. b Free of distortion c Material and relevant to the point in issue. 4.The chemical involved to process a film now on digital. time.Its either be film and paper. can be printed directly on photo paper or ordinary paper. 5. weather condition and etc. name of victim. Basic Requirement of a Photograph Admitted as Evidence in Court No matter how extensive the photographic efforts are at the crime scene. The chain of custody of the photographs must be maintained. Importance of Crime Scene Photography a Permanent Record A permanent record of the crime scene is considered indispensable to a successful presentation of the case in court. e Chemical Process . The general standards used to review the credibility of the photographers are: (See Figure 1) a Accurate representations of the crime scene or the object it purports to reproduce. b Light . but there are many sources of artificial light which can be used. In the film type camera it is always film. type of film used. e A written record that indicates a detail information about the photographs such as the case number. although later they may vitally affect the issues in the case. photographs can be coordinated with crime scene sketches or drawings that made to scale. d Unbiased. location’s address.The subject of the picture and can be anything under the sun. A crime scene that is altered through careless and haste can never be restored to its exact original condition.May be from many different sources. It is always better to take too many photographs than too few then .

It is useful in personal identification as well as in the identification of missing person. c Description of the Crime Scene It proves statements. It helps the expert witness in illustrating their findings. and defense lawyers have generally never visited the scene of the crime. head to elbow. A mug shot photography is taken on suspect for identification that shows the following angle: 1) Frontal whole body. 6. 5) Left Quarter view (half body-head to elbow) 6) Right Quarter view (half body-head to elbow) Note: The PNP Crime Laboratory is doing Composite Criminal Illustration by free hand and by the computerized method. It records all things that an investigator may fail to notice. head to elbow. head to elbow. It records all things that an investigator may fail to notice. judges. An accurate and detail description of the suspect by a witness can help bring the actual facial description of the suspect through the composite criminal illustration which would help in identifying the suspect. With the aid of photographs. It provides a second look and often reveals detail that is not apparent during the physical examination. In some instances. This can be made possible when a witness to a crime have personally seen the suspect’s face. Procedure in Photographing the Crime Scene The goal is to record useful information in a series of photographs which will enable the viewer to understand where and how the crime was committed. identification of stolen and lost properties . Free Hand Computer Generated b Preservation of evidence Preserve from necessary handling which might cause the evidence to deteriorate or otherwise become altered. but also . d Substitution to original documents/evidence A photograph can be made as a representative of any evidence or documents. It assists the court in understanding the case. e Record In court proceedings. investigators will not find hard time to describe things in details. select the best. investigators are compelled to reconstruct or describe in court the details of the crime scene they have investigated several months ago but with the bulk of cases they have handled perhaps they may not exactly recall. 4) Half body left side. (could be with case number and name included) 2) Frontal half body. fiscals. from head to foot with height scale behind. 3) Half body right side. It is also used to reproduce and copy documents. The term “crime scene” not only refers to the immediate area where the crime took place. Photographs greatly facilitate them in interpreting the scene.

To obtain this result. e Articles left at the scene. Photographs should be taken of: a Views of the exterior of the building/ vehicle in relation to other buildings/ vehicles. To enable the viewer of the photographs gain a clear concept of its position with reference to other objects at the scene. shoe print. blood splatter. Take necessary extreme close-up shot on the subject to show the extent of damage. Keep in mind the nature of the offense and try to show those features that establish the elements of the offense. A wide angle lens creates distortion. tool marks. 7. roads/ streets. fibers. tools. . if possible a top view photograph of the floor. the following procedure be observed: a General View or Long-range General view or long range photographs of the overall scene fundamentally are taken to portray the areas as if a person viewing the scene is seeing it from the standing position. When photographing the interior of a crime scene or a room. b Point of entry and exit outside and inside. objects that is small in size such as fingerprints. however. in some circumstances photograph of some important evidence or item is taken immediately when such object need to be move or may change in appearance or disappear as time pass. especially when close-up photographs are taken. The point of entry an exit should be shown in such a manner that the marks of force will be shown clearly. injury. to adjacent areas where important acts took place immediately before or after the crime was committed. Always take a second photograph with a scale to show the actual size of the object and the camera must always be parallel to the film plane (use tripod and a measuring scale/device to be more accurate ). c Interiors of the crime scene/ room. the photographer takes the photograph with the camera at eye level. etc. The attention of close-up photography is directed to object which could be effectively seen in the long-range and mid-range photographs. Sequential Photographs of the Crime Scene Each crime scene has individual features that should be photographed. documents. Take photograph from all corners to cover-up all sides of the room (overlapping). b Medium View or Mid-range Medium view or mid-range photographs are taken in a manner which portrays the scene from approximately ten to twenty feet of distance from the subject matter. these areas should contain sufficient details to permit the viewer this association. hair. A scale should also be visible but never place a suspect tool into the tool mark because it may alter the evidence. etc. use a 35mm camera lens instead of wide angle lens. In order that the viewer be permitted to associate the crime scene with separate areas of the scene photographed. Taking photograph of a crime scene starts from general to specific. It shows how thing or objects found at the scene and the general result of the incident. d Condition (s) of the crime scene. c Close-up View/ Range Close-up range photographs are normally taken approximately five feet or less from the subject matter.

In death due to asphyxia as a result of a hanging. Blood spatter on walls should be photographed with the lens parallel to the stain so that directionally. Chances are the suspect has concealed this materials at another location. Photograph the original position of the body to help in determining the manner of death. while the suicide victim frequently never gets his feet off the ground and is sometimes found in a sitting position or half-prone position. wrinkles. suicide. In drowning case. Occasionally.. black-and-white marks around the edge of the groove (here.f Area from which valuable articles were removed. the suspect may still be identified through physical characteristics such as scars. such as the telephone receiver off the hook or wires cut. TV and lights turned on. articles apparently in use immediately prior to the commission of the crime or which appear to have been disturbed from their customary position should be photographed. its size. the direction of the blood flowed can be determined. a suspect will place his own camera on a tripod and using a cable release or self timer. protrusions of the tongue. etc. fibers and cigarette butts. the body is usually the sole object of interest. drinking glasses or liquor bottles. The location of foreign hairs and fibers. i Fingerprints as well as articles on which these prints may be found. type and location on the neck. In suspected rape cases. Subject for close-up shots are the knots. h Tool marks and impressions of shoes or tire tracks. they may be compared with the crime scene photos to prove they were taken in the suspect’s dwelling. In sexual exploitation of children’s case. doubt sometimes exist as to whether the occurrence is murder. depth and location of the grooves in the neck. he will compose the photographs so his face is not seen. Show the height of the body above ground. suggesting prior strangulation. Photograph the whole . g Trace evidence. which appears to have been kicked from under the feet of the deceased. In a rape-homicide investigation.  Helpful Hints in taking photograph of a crime scene Signs of activity prior to the occurrence. color film is especially helpful). When these photographs are recovered. black and blue marks. playing cards orderly stacked or scattered. Secure a written permission from the parent or guardian. such as bruises. or an accident. Photographs should be made to show the relative position of any object. infrared photography of the body may detect latent bite marks since hemorrhaging can occur in tissue under the skin. Rarely will these photographs be discarded since they represent a trophy or remembrance of the conquest. However. such as a chair or a stool. marks. Overall view of the body and rope should be taken at torso and foot level. In general. with and without a measuring device at the crime scene and also the morgue. Usually. such as hairs. Color film is exceptionally useful here since many of the significant clues may be matters of discoloration. every room in a suspect’s residence should be photographed even if no physical evidence (such as photographs or video tapes) are found during a crime scene search. the purpose of the photography is to record information or signs of any struggle at the scene where the attack occurred. torn clothing. binding of the hands and feet. will photograph himself with his victim. etc. The photographic operation should be directed towards those facts which will help to resolve this question. biological fluids and stains should be obtained and if the victim is a minor. signs of violence about the neck. a murderer usually tries to raise the body completely. etc. or indications of the victim’s effort to resist attack. time watch and clock stopped should be recorded on film. if the photograph is sharp enough. It is recommended that the victim’s physician be present when such photographs are made. Bite marks should be photographed using oblique lighting. coffee cups. food in cooking stages. But did the deceased actually die of drowning or was he thrown into the water after death from some other cause.

The first type will allow you to look through the lens of the camera while the other will enable you to view at a plane parallel to the camera lens. 2) Focusing Mechanism SLR and DSLR cameras have another mechanism called the focusing mechanism. This adjusts your built-in light meter to the film's light sensitivity. 4) Lens This is considered to be the most important part of the camera. peculiar markings. the shutter speed on the camera should be set at 1/125 sec. diaphragm shutters. 9. When inserting a roll of film in the camera. fast films (400-1000 ISO) and ultrafast films (1600-3200 ISO). It is a far more important than the glossy dials and other advanced features that are part and parcel of modern day digital cameras. 200. b Types of Sensitize Materials 1) Films are mostly in SLR and point and shoot cameras. Color films include slow films (25-64 ISO). which is normally you can focus well using the viewfinder itself but SLR has focusing meters. a Basic Parts of the Camera 1) Viewfinder The viewfinder enables a photographer to see the subject. Close-up should include any foam about the mouth. There are different types of shutters used in modern day cameras like leaf shutter. There are different types of films available in color or black and white. 2) Sensitize Paper – It can be a black and white or colored. wounds. or unusual discoloration. The latter view will show any distinction of the body. 400 b. This is usually a good starting point for the . 3) Shutter The camera shutter is a device that enables light to enter through the lens for small period of time to enhance the exposure of photographic film. A basic camera lens comprises of multiple elements that will help you to add a creative element to your photography. body. Learning the basic function of a camera is more complete with the Single-Lens-Reflect (SLR) Camera which represents the different function or operation of a camera. none of them work exactly the same way even the same brand. projector shutter and central shutters. and any rope or wire bindings. bruises. body from the position of standing observer and from the ground level. medium films (100-200 ISO). 8. Commercially available Films ASA 50. The multiple elements in a camera lens help in directing light to the camera sensors so that it can get high clarity of the object being shot. semi glossy and others. Parts and Function of a Camera There are hundred of different types of camera. articles such as seaweed. 100. Steps to follow to obtain good photographs a. It can have different texture such glossy. you must always set your ASA dial according to the film speed as stated on the film cartridge. 5) Body The body of the camera helps in limiting the amount of light that exposes the sensitive film that is why it is being called light tight box. For crime or accident scenes outdoor during day time. focal plane shutter. Many of these views can be made at the morgue before autopsy. The main aim of the lens and its multiple elements is to reduce any kind of aberrations. There are basically two types of camera viewfinders. grasped in the hand. though many are similar.

1000. orange and green). shutter speed in outdoor bright daylight. Note: Use a shutter speed faster than 1/30 of a second for all hand held photographs. Your shutter speed could change from a slower speed to a faster one depending on the light intensity and ASA of the film used at the time the photograph is taken.6 f/22 d Adjust your light meter needle as seen in the viewfinder by turning the aperture ring located on the barrel of the lens until the needle is properly lined up. the higher the number. When the needle is properly lined up. The aperture affects the depth of field on the image. f/16. 2.4.4 f/5. for shutter speeds of 1/30 of a second or slower. the smaller the lens opening. however. 60. f/22 f/1. The smaller the “f” number the bigger the opening and vice versa.8. c The lens opening or f-stop. The shutter speed of 125 is capable of stopping the movement of the subject. there are fast and slow lenses. A fast lens. 2000 Number 1 stands for a whole second and the others are fraction of a second. f/8. the smaller the lens opening. 250. 125. 30. Yellow Green Red + 3 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 -3 Less Average Much e Your final step in available light photography is to compose your shot and focus. etc. this tells the photographer that the light entering the camera will produce a properly exposed photograph (Some camera uses light that brink as red. A body move and camera shake when pressing the shutter release button may register in the photographs. 1. f/2. f/4. f/11. The user should be cautious. 4. You must control your breath before pressing the shutter release button. f/5. The indicator on the camera for the degree of light passing through the camera lens is called the “f” number. The camera must be supported with tripod. is one that transmits more light. 500. for instance. Shutter Speed B. since fast lenses do not produce the sharpest images. The size of the lens opening in your camera is the other factor that determines the amount of light that reaches the film. the greater depth of field.6. Much like fast films and slow films. Lighting Techniques a Electronic flash (Note: Disregard the light meter in the camera when using electronic flash) b Flash off camera c Bounce flash d Bounce off a white or light colored surface . 8. 15. Standard F-stop of cameras f/1. Split Method Object Out of focus Sharp focus Microprism Ground Screen 10.

Will be given a scenario and make the practical exercises applying the different methods and techniques in taking photographs of a room and critiques follows after showing the results. the effect of light on the photograph as well as the use of artificial light to help obtain good photograph in various condition. The students will be able to operate the SLR camera and know the different processes involve to produce a good photograph. Even without experience. The requirement for the admissibility of the photographic evidence in court. The students are required to have a hands-on practice on how to operate the camera (SLR). The different procedures and techniques on how to take photograph of a crime scene and physical evidence. use a range for two times or more times the actual flash-to-subject distance. Your flash unit. check the Thyristor Sensor to ensure that you have set it "M" position. the forms or documents required to ensure authenticity of the photographs taken from a crime scene. It serves as your artificial light. Steps to Follow to Obtain Properly Exposed Film in Artificial Light (i. In this topic. c. Flash) Photography: a. When using the MANUAL MODE. now being your main light source. the uses and importance of photography in crime investigation. we learn the different definition of terms use in this lesson. Test questioned of 5 to 10 will be given to measure the level of knowledge gained by the students. It must be with you at all times. When choosing a setting you must keep in mind both the distance requirement and the desired DEPTH OF FIELD (DOF). SUMMARY: Forensic Photography is a very broad topic but this module only includes those topics that are useful to field investigator and is helpful in the investigation of crimes. d. Flash adjustment will be in accordance to the distance and lens opening you wanted to use for your shots. b. g Multiple flash h Available light i Painting with light Your flash is so important that deserves special consideration. Some digital camera flash has automatic setting base on the setting made on the camera. you may be able to learn how to use the flash to duplicate almost any type of natural lighting. The problem is the shadow produced by the flash and possible reflected light from shinny subject that may affect the photograph. the flash can help improve crime scene photography a great deal.e. NOTE: When using a flash as the light source. Also. .e Manual flash: Add the distance up and down for the flash-to-subject distance then figure in the absorbance loss (one to three f/stops) f Automatic flash with sensor facing the subject. adjustment must be done to both the camera and the flash unit in order to obtain a properly exposed photograph. With experience. You normally need front lighting and the flash mounted on the camera will provide it automatically. must be adjusted to the proper ASA setting according to the speed of the film being used-for the same reasons you adjusted the camera light meter to the film speed being used (Follow the manual). always ensure your Aperture setting corresponds with the distance indicated on your flash scale.