Crime Scene Photography


  • Edward Robinson, Associate Professor, Forensic Science Department, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Crime Scene Photography, Second Edition, offers an introduction to the basic concepts of forensic picture-taking. It covers the basic crime scene scenario, providing important details to guide the student and professional through the process in a step-by-step manner. In addition to the photographic aspect, the handling and care of evidence and maintenance of the crime scene are also addressed. The book begins by tracing the history of crime scene photography. It explains the cardinal rules of crime scene photography; the photographic variables related to exposure; and the three basic types of crime/accident scene photographs: overalls, midranges, and close-ups. This is followed by discussions on the use of digital imaging technologies and the legal issues related to photography. Each chapter begins with an outline of Learning Objective and Key Terms that will be used for the remainder of the text. Within the text are tips and rules-of-thumb that highlight important aspects of the chapter. The chapters conclude with a succinct Summary, Discussion Questions, Practical Exercises, and a comprehensive list of Further Readings. This textbook is designed for photography students in an academic setting and practitioners working within various law enforcement agencies.
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Students in forensic science programs, crime scene investigator/photographers, law enforcement training centers, police academies and local agencies. Forensic consultants and forensic scientists.


Book information

  • Published: February 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-375728-9


"[The book] addresses a technically sensitive practice with great accuracy. The writing is concise and easy to understand... The content is well organized and, fittingly, uses ample photographs as examples of both correct and incorrect ways to employ various photographic techniques. Specific topics discussed range from filters, flash, and focus to evidentiary concerns and court presentations. An excellent table of contents and index make finding specific content a breeze…. The text is written primarily for a law enforcement audience. This solid text would serve nicely, however, for security professionals who may need to document accidents, potential hazards, crimes, or property loss. It is an excellent reference and would serve both a novice and experienced photographer."--Security Management Magazine

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Second Edition

Foreword to the First Edition



Chapter 1 History of Forensic Imaging

My Inspiration

The Practical Value

The History


Chapter 2 Composition and Cardinal Rules

Use-Once (or, Use One Time) Camera versus a Professional Camera System

Composition and Cardinal Rules

Cardinal Rules of Crime Scene Photography


Chapter 3 Basic Exposure (Non-Flash) Concepts

The Proper Exposure Triangle

Shutter Speed as Motion Control

Using Slow Shutter Speeds to Eliminate Rain and Snow

Reciprocal Exposures

The Reflective Light Meter

“Normal” and “Non-Normal” Scenes

Tools for Determining “Proper” Exposures with Tricky Scenes


The F/16 Sunny Day Rule

Causes for Complete Rolls of Film with Exposure Errors

Common Filters

The Eye Cup Cover


Chapter 4 Focus, Depth of Field, and Lenses


Depth of Field



Chapter 5 Electronic Flash

Guide Numbers

Flash Sync Speeds

Set the Flash for the Film Used (If Still Using a Film Camera)

Manual Flash Mode

The Inverse Square Law

Automatic and Dedicated Flash Exposure Modes

Built-in Flash Units

Fill-in Flash

Oblique Light, Both Flash and Non-Flash (Flashlight)

Bounce Flash

Painting with Light


Chapter 6 Crime Scene Photography

Photo Documentation Forms

Overall Photographs

Midrange Photographs

Close-Up Photographs

The Photographic Documentation of Bodies and Wounds


Chapter 7 Ultraviolet, Infrared, and Fluorescence

The Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS)

Ultraviolet Light (UV)

Infrared Light (IR) on the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Visible Light Fluorescence


Chapter 8 Photogrammetry

Introduction to Photogrammetry

Perspective Grid Photogrammetry

Perspective Disc Photogrammetry

Natural Grid Photogrammetry

Reverse Projection Photogrammetry

Rhino Photogrammetry


Chapter 9 Special Photography Situations

Accident Photography

Surveillance Photography

Aerial Photography

Underwater Photography


Chapter 10 Digital Imaging Technologies

In the Beginning

Expose Yourself to Digital Imaging Concepts: Bits, Bytes, Pixels, and Dots

Take a Picture! It Lasts Longer … Or Does It?

Image S&M … Storage and Management of Your Digital Images


Chapter 11 Digital Image Processing of Evidentiary Photography

Best Practices and Guidelines

General Guidelines and Requirements

The Order of Enhancements

Getting Started

The Imaging Process (The Act Formerly Known as “Enhancement”)


Chapter 12 Legal Issues Related to Photographs and Digital Images

Criteria of Photographs and Digital Images as Evidence

The Purpose of Crime Scene Photographs

Photographs of Suspects and Evidence

Legal Implications of Digital Imaging

International Association for Identification (IAI) Resolution 97-9

Case Law Citations Relevant to Film and Digital Images

Canadian Cases




Subject Index