Crime Scene Photograph - Term Paper

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Clipper 1 Meshelle Clipper Everett Baxter PLSC1433 April 14, 2011 The Importance of Crime Scene Photography A crime scene tells a story and the evidence there can retell the how and when the crime was committed, who committed it, why and perhaps what items have been taken. One of the first things an officer should do once he arrives at the crime scene is to secure it as quickly as possible. Investigating crimes and documenting the scene involves several steps and taking photos is part of the pro
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  Clipper 1Meshelle Clipper Everett Baxter PLSC1433April 14, 2011The Importance of Crime Scene PhotographyA crime scene tells a story and the evidence there can retell the how and when the crimewas committed, who committed it, why and perhaps what items have been taken. One of thefirst things an officer should do once he arrives at the crime scene is to secure it as quickly as possible. Investigating crimes and documenting the scene involves several steps and taking photos is part of the process.A picture is worth a thousand words and it is especially true in crime scene photography.Photographs and crime sketches are the most effective and simplest way to represent a crimescene. They are most useful in supplying significant bits and pieces with exact measurement of the site where the crime has occurred. However, photographs provide accurate measurementsand distances among objects, which is lacking with sketches. No matter how well aninvestigator can verbally describe a crime scene, photographs can tell the same story better andmore easily as it freezes time and records the evidences.The purpose of crime scene photography is to provide a true and accurate record of thecrime scene and physical evidence present by recording the srcinal scene and related areas. It provides investigators and others with a permanent visual record of the scene that can beanalyzed or examined for later use. It’s also very beneficial in court hearings and trials as it provides the judge as well as the jurors with a permanent visual record of the scene and evidencethat was collected from it. Regardless if a scene has been videotaped, still photographs are a  Clipper 2must at every crime scene. Although videotaping does record everything, photographs candemonstrate certain things such as direct comparison. Actual size photographs can be used tocompare fingerprint and shoe prints photographed at the scene against the suspect.The equipment used in photographing a crime scene is very important in achieving highquality photos. It doesn’t have to be the most sophisticated or most expensive camera on themarket in order to take high quality photos. Regardless of the camera that’s used, one shouldalways remember that all pictures taken at the crime scene have to be accounted for. It’s easy todelete photos with a digital camera, but you should never delete photos taken at the crime scene.If you delete photos at a scene, it can lead to a lot of controversy if our case goes to court(Warrington). Having the right features on a camera as well as the accessories are some other things to be considered. These accessories should include such items as; normal lens, wide anglelens, close-up lens, flash, tripod, scales and/or rulers, flashlight and extra batteries.Overall, midrange and close-ups are the three step approach to photographing a crimescene. If the crime has taken place inside, overall photos should be taken of the outside of the building, entrances and exits, surrounding buildings, street signs and address numbers. Be sureto include photos of spectators at the scene which can later help locate and determine if they arewitnesses or suspects. Midrange photos should detail key pieces of evidence such as a weaponand it should show the distance of the weapon from surrounding objects. Finally, close-upsinclude identifying marks such as scars, tattoos and serial numbers. If the photos have not been properly logged, they serve no purpose at all and will be inadmissible in court. Therefore, it isvery important to log each photograph with the photo number, if any filters were applied, timeand date, location and description of the object.  Clipper 3At scenes that are illuminated by bright sunlight, there will usually be dark shadow areas.Details in these dark shadow areas will be lost when the exposure is based on the overall brightness of the scene. With the use of flash fill, the brightness level in the shadow areas can beraised to the overall brightness of the crime scene. The ratio of flash to daylight is generally pretty close in exposure (Bol). Direct lighting and oblique lighting are among other lightingmethods. Direct lighting uses normal copy lighting with one or more light sources at a 45-degreeangle. Oblique lighting uses a light source at a low angle to show shadows in the surface. It iscommonly used when photographing impression, tool marks, and certain types of fingerprints.The principal requirements to admit a photograph into evidence are relevance andauthentication. Unless the photograph is admitted by the stipulation of both parties, the partyattempting to admit the photograph into evidence must be prepared to offer testimony that the photograph is an accurate representation of the scene. When establishing reliable procedures thatdemonstrate the integrity of images from creation to admission into evidence, agencies mustlimit the access to the files. The process used should be able to demonstrate: who took the picture and when, where and how the image was stored, who had access to the image from thetime it was taken through the time it was introduced in court, and any details on whether or notthe image has been altered and how (Nagosky). A crime scene photographer should alwaysremember that it is their goal to provide the most comprehensive record possible of every crimescene along with the evidence that is found there. If they’ve done their job well by providing aclear and thorough documentation of the evidences collected at the scene, the jury will be able tosee exactly what the person taking the photos saw and can use that same evidence to make a wellinformed decision regarding the guilt or innocence of the defendant(s).  Clipper 4Works CitedBol, T. (2011, April 19).  Lighting Makes The Difference: Fill In The Light. Retrievedfrom http://www.dpmag.com Nagosky, D. The Admissibility of Digital Photographs in Criminal Cases. Retrieved fromhttp://www.crime-scene-investigator.net   Warrington, D. Crime Scene Photograph: Capturing the Scene. Retrieved fromhttp://www.forensicmag.com
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