Digital Photography Quick Guide

DSLR cameras can be intimidating to anyone who has yet to venture past their user-friendly automatic settings. Compound that with the pressure of documenting a crime scene or evidence quickly and efficiently, and a quick reference guide sure would come in handy from time to time.

That was the concept behind the Digital Camera Quick Reference Guide, developed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Latent Prints Section, in conjunction with their Photo/Digital Imaging Section.
The guide provides the agency’s recommended manual camera settings for different types of crime scene situations (general crime scenes, night-time scenes, aerial photography) and specific types of evidence (shoe impressions, latent prints, bloodstains enhanced with luminol).
“We use these settings at crime scenes and also train our new employees on it,” said Erika Di Palma, forensic identification specialist II with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Crime Lab Latent Prints Unit. “We’ve also had neighboring forensic departments request this guide which makes me think others in the field could benefit from it as well.”
The sheriff’s department is making the guide available, free of charge, as an interactive PDF. The document is designed to be mobile-friendly, so that it can be saved onto any smartphone for use in the field. Each section provides simple, easy-to-follow setting specifications, as well as links to articles on external websites, such as Evidence Technology Magazine, where users can read more in-depth about various photographic techniques.
Topics in the guide include:
  • General crime scene photography
  • Night-time, available light photography
  • 2D shoe impressions
  • 2D latent/patent impressions
  • 3D shoe and tire track impressions
  • Painting with light
  • Alternate light source photography of seminal fluid
  • Luminol photography
  • Aerial photography
The guide also includes a depth of field, shutter speed, and ISO chart.
Any questions regarding the guide can be sent to:
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The Digital Camera Quick Reference Guide was created by Erika Di Palma and Yvette Gonzalez, Forensic Identification Specialists II, and produced by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Photographer II, at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
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