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Posted: 5/3/2004 6:27:03 AM EST
Guys, I have been asked to give a block of instruction on newly purchased/issued digital cameras. All of the Deputies are getting one and I have to bacically tell them how to operate the camera and print and archive the photos... No problem there.

To add some real content to the instruction I hope to do some basic scene photograpy instruction as well. I know some of the basics but do any of you guys have any specific ideas for topics or issues that should be covered with the line deputies regarding this?

I want the block to be worthwhile so I would appreciate any help you could offer.

Link Posted: 5/3/2004 7:08:35 AM EST
While I don't have any first-hand experience with the subject myself, allow me to add this. Two of the Prosecutor's Invesitgators in our County work part-time for my Dept. Apparently, issues are being brought up in court about digital crime-scene photography and programs like PhotoShop being used to alter the photos. Currently, the Prosecutor's Office uses 35mm cameras. They are waiting on some sort of legal decision about the PhotoShop issue before going digital. Not sure if it's an issue in your area but it seems to be getting some play here. One of the guys here uses his personally-owned 5.something mega-pixel cameras for photography if he's on duty. Otherwise, we use 35mm cameras. Just food for thought. Good luck.

Link Posted: 5/3/2004 7:28:23 AM EST
In AL as long as you can testify to a chain of custody and that a photo "accurately and fairly represents" it's subject matter at the time the photo was taken you are good to go. So far, so good. Hell, ANYTHING can be altered... All relates back to credibility, I guess.

Basically I am looking for issues or guidelines for general scene/evidence photography that I may be overlooking.

Link Posted: 5/3/2004 8:43:29 AM EST
Don't assume anything is not worth taking a picture of. Lots of pictures. Juries loved pictures.

Get close ups, but only after wideframe referrence shots. When possible include items that can give scale.

Link Posted: 5/3/2004 9:14:18 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/3/2004 9:16:40 AM EST by natez]
We had similar issues when we first wanted to go digital. We settled them by getting a camera that actually burns the photos onto a CD, which also means you can take about 150 high-quality images before you have to use another .10 cent disc.

While I have had not formal training, more is better, and I always take at least two photos of everything, in case one missed something. Your first photo should be of the case number so that if your disk gets separated from the case jacket, everyone can figure out where it belongs. Dry erase marker on the trunk of the car works well for that, and wipes right off. Start a ways out and get a full photo of the victim/object, get closer and take lots of photos of the injuries/damage from varying distances. Take the photos in sequence; far, closer, near, extreme close up so that you can figure out what exactly you were photographing. Work in photos of DLs and license plates as well as identifyinf face shots so tha you can clearly ID who/what you were photographing. Make sure that what you are photgraphing isn't back lit, and don't be afraid to light things up with a flashlight or provide some indirect lighting by bouncing the beam off nearby objects. I also include rulers or other objects for a frame of reference. When all else fails, go to your wallet; dollar bill is six inches long, and a quarter is an inch in diameter, and can be included in the shot for reference.

That is all I can think of from my limited practical experience.
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 11:01:32 AM EST

I imagine that's how things will work out here, too. Digital's just too good to let die and, in time, the Court system will catch up with the rest if the world. Just thought I'd throw it out there in case it haden't been brought up yet. Good luck with your classes.

Link Posted: 5/3/2004 8:14:12 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/3/2004 8:22:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/3/2004 8:26:27 PM EST by PaDanby]
Find out how to adjust exposure the equivalent of a few f-stops up or down, overexposing will bring out details in shadow and underexposure detail in brighter areas.

I might also get some legal advice about including a tape measure in each photo so you can judge size and preclude accusations of modifications.

Multiple exposures from different angles makes undetectable modifications to pictures extremely dificult because you must make or attempt the modification to multiple shots, pretty difficult.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 9:38:04 AM EST
Thanks much! Great info! I'll be incoporating much of this in my plan.

I'm gonna mess with the manual aspects of the camera and see what it is capable of.

The bought Sony MVC-CD350. It uses mini discs which they will finalize, date, and initial and turn in with each Incident Report. I think it is gonna work out well. The challenge is that many of the guys are just not tech types AT ALL so it is gonna be all new to them.

Please voice anyother ideas or issues!

Thanks again!
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 9:55:26 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/4/2004 9:58:37 AM EST by AZ-K9]
I have found that our newly issued camera work almost perfectly. There is very little need to go "manual" with them, the only exception being turning off the flash and painting with a flashlight. This is particularly effective in gettting really good shots of footprints in dirt, etc..... Can also be used for other evidence, but getting line level employees to actually understand this stuff is a challenge indeed. I think getting them trained of the advantages of the macro lens and painting with light technique will reap huge benefits.

The biggest hurdle is keeping them charged and ready to go. A good idea would be to establish a "bank" of charged batteries ready to go at substations and if you have lots of cash, a car charger.....

I see you bought the same cameras we have. The little flimsy plastic sleeves that the extra discs(bought in bulk) come in melt in the heat and ruin the cd's, so we have gone to paper envelopes for storage. Pelican makes a perfectly sized case for the camera and accessories too.
Link Posted: 5/4/2004 1:33:04 PM EST
The best thing you could do for those guys is to teach them the basics of photography.
After that, have someone (insurance investigator, forensics expert, prosecutor?) talk to them about the difference between art photos and crime scene / evidenciary photos.

Once they've heard all that teaching them to use digicams will be a lot easier.
Link Posted: 5/5/2004 3:07:03 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/5/2004 3:07:35 PM EST by Tango7]
There's a company who makes photo-luminescent replacements for x-ray sheets for us boomie dudes. They've patented a "digital lock" which will add a "signature" to the .jpeg, whic cannot be saved through a photo-shop process, and thus is "more" court-admissible. No idea as to when it'll hit the camera market.

Our dept. uses digis for "non-critical" photos - if we find something interesting, we break out the Canon 35 SLR.

(BTW- "non-critical" = post-"hereholdmybeerandwatchthis" photos)
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