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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department
Course Prefix and Number: CJAD 303
Course Title: Crime Scene Photography
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Techniques and methods of crime scene photography focusing on practical suggestions as well as general viewpoints of crime scene imaging and documentation. The use of digital imaging and standard film systems are demonstrated. Topics include the fundamentals of photographing scenes from general to specific utilizing the overall, medium, and close-up "three-step" methods. Practical exercises demonstrate the documentation of crime scenes. Major case crime scenes and autopsy procedures are specifically demonstrated. $40 lab fee. Students are not required to have equipment but may use their personal systems (digital/ standard). Prerequisites: CJAD 101 and junior standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): CJAD 101 and junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered Spring.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

The student is not required to provide a 35 mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera or Digital Imaging camera, but it is recommended. This allows the student to apply photographic techniques using their own personal camera system during practical applications and demonstrations.

Many suitable textbooks are available from various publishers and the following list is not comprehensive. Other textbooks may be judged by individual instructors to be more suitable in meeting course objectives. Many current textbooks have companion websites, and the instructor is encouraged to enhance the course experience for the student by utilizing available technology.

The Practical Methodology of Forensic Photography
By Redsicker (CRC Press)
Compact Disc—Crime Scene Imaging and Documentation
By Himmel and Lenderle (MLHPIX Publishing)
Course Objectives
  • To appreciate the importance of proper preservation of crime scenes by photographic means.
  • To understand the role of law enforcement and crime scene technicians in conducting photography at crime scenes.
  • To examine the relationship and interactions between law enforcement, crime scene technicians and the courts in using photographic evidence in court.
  • To become exposed to common terminology, equipment, methods and procedures connected with crime scene photography.
  • To examine the practical, theoretical, legal and ethical dilemmas faced by individuals involved in crime scene photography.
  • To enhance critical thinking and practical skills on issues relevant to crime scene photography.
    Measurable Learning
  • Explain how crime scene photography is conducted.
  • Describe and evaluate the various types of photographic equipment, including standard film and digital imaging systems.
  • Demonstrate the proper use of proper photographic equipment including standard film and/or digital imaging systems.
  • Describe and demonstrate proper photographic technique when documenting specific offenses and situations, including the following:
    - Homicides
    - Domestic violence/adult abuse
    - Arson
    - Vehicular accidents
    - Autopsies
    - Fingerprints
    - Shoeprints
    - Tire impressions
  • Identify, compare and evaluate relevant terminology, equipment and methods for conducting crime scene photography.
  • Apply relevant terminology, equipment and methods involving crime scene photography to real and hypothetical issues, problems, simulations and case studies.
  • Identify and evaluate relevant legal and ethical issues involved in photographing evidence of crime scenes in court proceedings
  • Appraise and interpret relevant literature, case studies, materials and developments regarding crime scene photography.
    Topical Outline:
  • General considerations regarding crime scenes
  • Court admissibility and rules of evidence
  • Photographic process of scene: general overview
  • Photographing the scene: basic guidelines
  • Technical guidelines: photographing the scene
  • Introduction to the single lens reflex (SLR) camera
  • Equipment needed for documentation of major case scenes
  • Electronic and painting with light techniques
  • Crime scene documentation techniques
  • Homicides
  • Domestic violence
  • Fire and arson
  • Luminol photography
  • Laser photography
  • Basic introduction to digital imaging (legal)
  • System review--digital and standard cameras
  • Courtroom presentations, use of photo boards for sequencing
  • Practical exercises applying skills lectured for documenting crime scenes and individual items of evidence

    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Barry Langford Date: May 18, 2005
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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