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Reinforcing Knowledge with Sirchie Webinars: One Police Department’s Story about “How to photograph blood with Bluestar or Luminol”

By: Jocelyne Terilli

Sirchie online training webinars can be an effective tool to reinforce your knowledge base and improve your skills.  Here’s one recent story.

Tips about Investigating and Documenting Blood Evidence

When you find blood evidence at a crime scene using the three-step method, you need to properly document and photograph it. Photographing evidence, especially blood evidence, is an important skill-set for crime scene investigators and law enforcement. Photographs can tell the story better with objectivity and they freeze time and leave a permanent record of the scene. They’re also important documents to show in court.

Photographing the blue glow caused by Luminol or Bluestar reacting with blood can be tricky. It’s best to make sure all DNA samples have been taken first. Using too much Luminol or Bluestar might dilute the blood so you want to take a sample first. The room should be dark so you can see the blue glow easily.

Once you’re ready to photograph, take your camera off auto and use manual settings (For tips about taking photos, visit our blog post, 5 Photography Terms every Investigator Should Know). For photographing the blue glow, we suggest the following settings:

  • A high ISO, such as 800
  • A long exposure with a slow shutter speed
  • A mid-range f-stop, such as f/8
  • A flash at the end of the exposure to capture the blood enhancement and the surroundings. It’s important to capture the movement/direction of the blood and the relevance of the blood to other objects in the scene.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Training

Photographing blood, while it’s being enhanced, takes practice and we were happy when we heard from one department about how they took their knowledge and practiced the technique. With the help of our recent webinar, “Searching for Blood”, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office from Sarasota, FL, set up their own training to get better photographs when using Bluestar.

As Candace Matthews, Crime Scene Supervisor of their Forensics Services Bureau, told us, “a couple of new people in our unit had not been trained on Bluestar or Luminol and didn’t have a lot of experience using extended exposure photography so we set up a training while it was still getting dark early.”

Candace used her own blood and prepped clothing over the weekend before the training. Using Nikon D610 cameras and tripods, she stated, “our exposures were just over a minute long with our ISO set at 800 and our f/stops set at f/8. Right before our shutters closed, we used a quick burst of light from our flash to expose our mock evidence so we can see the item and the fluorescence from the Bluestar.”

Candace used her own blood and prepped clothing over the weekend before the training. Candace used her own blood and prepped clothing over the weekend before the training.

An excellent practical conducted by Candace and her team, which reinforces that it is important to keep practicing and training to enhance your investigation skills.

We can help you keep your department skills sharp through several ways:

  • Our monthly free webinars. Sign up for our emails so you can register or email us to get access to our past webinars.
  • Our training programs. See our full 2017 education schedule with our new classes, including Introduction to Arson Investigation and Comprehensive Crime Scene Photography.  Once you are a Sirchie student, you are a student for life.
  • Our blog. Bookmark our blog and receive tips and techniques on investigation, surveillance, arson crimes, and other current issues in law enforcement
  • Technical support while you’re in the field. Have a question about a product, just ask.
  • We can come to you with classes! We offer our popular Evidence Collection class at your location. Contact our training coordinator, Patricia Hogan at phogan@sirchie.com or 800.356.7311 for more information
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