a car, it should first be photographed before the car is
moved. This overall or medium shot should show both
the car in comparison to other scene elements and its
relationship to the gun. Only then should the car be
moved to get the closeup shot of the gun
Today, the trend in Navy investigations is to use
color film because color photographs represent the
subject more realistically than black-and-white film.
People see their surroundings in color, and based on this
premise, color photography has become completely
acceptable for courtroom use. Color pictures convey a
more accurate representation of the facts to the court or
persons reviewing reports.
FIRE AND ARSON PHOTOGRAPHY
Fire fighters and damage control personnel realize
the value of good photographic records of a fire and its
damage in helping determine both the cause of the fire
and the effectiveness of the methods used to fight the
One of the most important functions of any group
of fire fighters is training. The most effective training
method is, of course, actually practicing fire fighting.
However, aboard ship and because of the cost ashore,
this cannot always be done. The next best method of
training is with visual aids. By studying still pictures and
movies of a fire, firemen and members of the damage
control party can receive instructions and observe
proper procedures in the performance of their duties.
Photography serves as a means of refreshing the
memories of fire fighters and witnesses during the
investigation of a fire.
Fires aboard ship and ashore should be
photographed from the time the fire party arrives to the
time the tire is out. Pictures of the fire should include
overall views showing the positions of trucks, ladders,
hoses, other types of equipment, personnel fighting the
fire, and people watching the fire. Pictures of the
progress of the fire must also be made. Fire progress
pictures should show the structure, smoke, and flames.
Arson is becoming a big business in the civilian
world. As sailors, we do not see much arson in the Navy,
but there have been cases and will continue to be cases
of arson in the Navy. We cannot afford to have an
arsonist in our midst, particularly aboard ship or in the
Without evidence, arrest and prosecution of an
arsonist is extremely difficult. Photography is an
effective tool in recording and preserving the evidence
of set fires. Much of the actual evidence may be
destroyed during fire fighting, or if it survives the fire,
it may be impossible to preserve.
Every effort should be made to photograph the
scene of a fire, whether or not arson is suspected, before
it is disturbed by other operations. You must work fast,
but never do a careless job. Your pictures may be used
to prove the intent to commit arson.
The pictures you make of a fire should do the
Show the area or areas in which the fire started
or was set.
Help identify spectators. An arsonist often
remains to watch the fire.
Provide information about the speed of
combustion and direction of spreading.
Show the progressive stages of burning and fire
fighting from various angles. If possible, keep a record
of the time each picture was made.
Help investigators determine the type of material
burning. This is where the use of color film is
recommended. The steam, color, and quantity of smoke
and the color and size of flames are indications of what
type of material is burning. The color of the smoke often
indicates whether an accelerant, such as gas, was used
to speed the burning.
Once the fire is out, pictures (fig. 6-7) are made of
the rubble. Give particular attention to the most burned
or charred areas. The structure should be photographed
from all sides to show the damaged areas. Other things
to look for are incendiary devices and combustible
materials, such as matchbooks, paper, liquids (such as
gas and paint thinner), and fuses. Although they may
have burned completely, there could be a visible trail,
defective wiring, and electrical or gas appliances that
may have been the cause of the fire.
The exposure required to photograph the interior of
a building after a fire may be considerably more than
indicated by normal exposure calculation methods. So
much light is absorbed by blackened and charred areas
that it may be necessary for you to open up several stops
over your indicated exposure, even for well-lighted
close-ups. When using flash to light burned areas, hold
the flash away from the camera to permit some
improvement in the rendering of texture. This will bring
out the alligator or checked pattern of burned wood,
blistered paint, and so forth.