Thursday, November 14, 2013

Legal | Evidence Photography

When you think about photographer's, what type come to mind?  For most it is a wedding photographer, Paparazzi and that awesome guy/gal in National Geographic.  Oh, can't forget the sports photographers too.

There is another area that probable is not to familiar to most, unless you watch a lot of CS shows.  It is what we term Legal Evidence Photography and no, it is not as glamorous as Hollywood makes it to be. It is often photographing  products/equipment, roadways and intersections, home structural damage and the likes. Take the image pictured here.  a simple shot of a ladder, or is it?

This picture may appear as a simple shot of a ladder but that view far from the truth.  There are several elements here both seen and unseen, first what is seen.  Notice the focal length (depth-of-field).  The background is purposely taken out of focus by the photographer not only to avoid potential background distractions but to help draw attention to the ladder.  The focus has also been directed specifically to the instructional area of this image.  With the areas of almost perfect white and black, exposure of the low contrast stamped text was extremely important to capture correctly - on camera.  Altered and photoshopping images for exhibits are a no-no.

Great lead into the unseen portion of this picture - file data.  Did you know that when you take a picture, even with your smartphone, your camera records all sorts of information from the capture? Depending on the camera, it can document the date, time, aperture, shutter speed, lens used, ISO, and even the focal length you used and GPS location.  This captured information is commonly referred to as the meta data.

So why is metadata important?  In legal work it is critical in providing specific facts from specific captures. But can't that be altered?  Sure it can.  But if you are like us, we use built in image authentication for this type of photography.  This enables the authentication of each photo shot by a specific camera, then with the use of special software you can verify if the image has been altered since the time it was captured.

Okay, so why can't someone hack that authentication software?  They sure could, nothing is fool proof.  Heck look at our national security issues.  What we do as photographers is provide all the "firewalls" we can to ensure original authentic images.  Speaking only for the Big Idea Photographers, we follow our personal moral values, not the feelings some follow from the heart but the guidelines given to us long ago by a guy with a staff wearing sandal's and donning what most movember guys dream of. 

Big Idea |  the photography side

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