Covering the use of photography in military police work and criminal investigations, the 25-minute long video introduces the types of cameras used, explains when each camera should be used and provides important guidelines for ensuring the photographs will be admissible as evidence in court.
Watching it today, the video offers an educational glimpse into photography practices from 50 years ago, provides some laughs and shares a few eternal truths about photography.
Beginning with the importance of proper exposure, the instructor reminders viewers that they, not the camera, are in control of the photographic process. “Keep in mind that a camera is only a tool and can do nothing by itself. Your skill with it determines whether or not the photograph you take will serve its purpose and yours,” he says.
While that is still true to this day, the next part will quickly remind you that this is a movie from 1965 after all.
“Four types of cameras are available for military police work”, the instructor continues, introducing the photographic work tools of the time:
The 4×5 Press Type with synchronized flash is said to be “the workhorse and best all-around camera”.
For surveillance work the 35mm camera is recommended, “since it is small and easy to conceal”. It is said that the camera comes with a variety of wide-angle and telephoto lenses and can also be used for photomicrography and photomacrography.
Next up is the fingerprint camera (You can guess what it does…)
And last but not least is the 16mm motion picture camera used to capture motion picture and normal speed as well as slow-motion footage.
“No camera does everything equally well”, the instructor concludes the gear-introduction section, “and that is of course why there are different types of cameras for different jobs”. (You’d think that 50 years would be enough time to come up with the ultimate all-in-one camera, wouldn’t you?)
The movie goes on to explain how to methodically capture “effective photographic evidence that will be accepted in court” in various scenarios such as arson and homicides scenes.
Trap cameras, infra-red photography, ultra-violet photography and even color photography are also discussed, among other uses for both still and motion photography as used by the military police.
It’s interesting to see how much has changed in the past 50 years, but maybe even more so how much has remained almost unchanged.
Whether you’re interested in the history of photography or the history of law enforcement, I recommend you take a break and watch this video. At the very least it will make you appreciate the technological advances our field has seen, and help you realize that even if you don’t have the latest camera you’re still way better off than your parents or grandparents were!