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  1. #1
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    Default Fireground Photography

    My name is Kernin Lambert. I am a Senior Firefighter, with the NSW Fire Brigades, based in Sydney Australia. I am also the Brigades Operational Photographer.

    Due to a recent event, I now have to acquire new photographic equipment. As many of you who have taken photographs on firegrounds will appreciate, fire photography can be a very challenging science. I am seeking your respected opinions and experiences regarding digital photography. Could some of you please advise of your satisfaction or otherwise with digital cameras at the fireground.

    Thanks, your help will be most appreciated,

    Kernin


  2. #2
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default 2 cents...

    I am no expert, but I have found it better to turn
    OFF my flash on my Sony digital camera during
    live fire and just about anything else.

    Also, I have been VERY happy with my Sony camera.
    VERY EASY to use. (Dont think I even read the directions)
    I like having the memory stick option. Sony seems
    to be very popular with my department.

    I also save all of my pictures on ofoto. www.ofoto.com
    They offer all the memory you need and other
    people can view and purchase your pics. on real
    kodak paper.

    Again, hope that helps.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 08-25-2003 at 11:52 PM.

  3. #3
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    Talking

    Kernin, I was a professional digital photographer until I was hired as a FF a few months ago. There are a lot of things to consider when looking into digital photography. Here are a few of the basics.
    1. What are you going to be doing with your images? Printing them our or using them for the internet... It makes a difference. Try to get the most "megapixels" you can afford. The more megapixels you have the larger you can get your images printed out.
    2. How much money do you want to spend. You can go from a few hundered dollars for a point and shoot to thousands of dollars for larger cameras
    3. Are you comfortable using a SLR opposed to a point and shoot. Keep in mind with a point and shoot you will be very limited with the functions vs. those of a SLR.

    In my opinion one of the best point and shoots on the market is the olympus C-4040 you can get into one of them for a few hundered dollars. If you want to something that will give you a higher quality image I would look into the Kodak line of SLR's, something along the lines of the DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera. Nikon also has a few good cameras at a fair price. Go to Kodak.com and you can see the difference. These are just some of the basics. Depending on what you are looking to do you may need to take things such as "bit depts" and color management into consideration. Many of these things you didn't neet to think about with film as it is pretty forgiving for the average user. If you have any other questions please let me know.

  4. #4
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    Default

    i took a "fire cause determination/fire investigation" class at the duluth, mn. fire school last spring. the instructor stressed using 35mm cameras on the fire scene, not digital. digital photos are too easy to change, in the eyes of the court, if you every have to use the photos in a trial. and keep your negatives, in case they need to checked for authenticity. does anyone else do this?

  5. #5
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    Default

    Originally posted by JFDdan
    i took a "fire cause determination/fire investigation" class at the duluth, mn. fire school last spring. the instructor stressed using 35mm cameras on the fire scene, not digital. digital photos are too easy to change, in the eyes of the court, if you every have to use the photos in a trial. and keep your negatives, in case they need to checked for authenticity. does anyone else do this?
    In a word:
    WRONG!

    It's not your fault. Every time there is a digital photography thread, someone posts who was taught this myth at a fire investigation course.

    I teach fire investigation, Specifically I teach a course on Digital Photography. There has not been one, reported case in the United States of AMerica saying that digital photography is no good. In fact there are two cases, Washington vs. Hayden and California vs. Lee, where the use of digital photography was affirmed. Digital photography is the natural evolution of photography. The courts support it as long as it used properly.

    Under FRE 702, the test for admitting photographs in court are basically; 1. Is it a true and accurate depiction of the scene as you ssaw it. 2) Is it relevant. The photographer must testify to both of these questions whether you are using film, digital, or Fred Flintstone's bird pecking a rock.

    You absolutely have to develop and follow agency SOP's when you are using digital. Issiues of storage, use and alteration must be addressed. Do you know that it is perfectly acceptable to use altered photographs in court? Do you know that every single one of your 35 mm photos is altered? If you state that you can't use digital photographs in court, you start from the premise that all forensic photographers are corrupt and can't be trusted. That is not where the courts stand.

    Look at this quote from the US Spreme Court.
    “It is common knowledge that as to such matters, either through the skill on the part of the artist, or inadequate instruments or materials, or through intentional and skillful manipulation, a photograph may not only be inaccurate, but dangerously misleading”
    When do you think it was made? How about 1985? How about 1990? Nope. 1899 (Cunningham v. Fair Haven & Westville R. Co.).

    Look at these websites:
    Law Enforcement Technology Magazine
    www.letonline.com
    Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technologies
    http://www.for-swg.org/it_files/swgi...lications.html
    Institute for Forensic Imaging
    www. engr.iupui.edu/ifi/index.html

    You will find them a great source of accurate information. Also, NFPA 921 will come out with their new edition with a comprehensive guide to digital photography.

    As far as equipment. Look at Sony's line of Mavica CD cameras. The new Mavica CD500 is sweet. It is a 4 megapixel camera with great features. You store the pictures on mini-CD's (about .75 each) instead of expensive memory sticks.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Engine101's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2 cents...

    Originally posted by CALFFBOU
    I am no expert, but I have found it better to turn
    OFF my flash on my Sopny digital camera during
    with live fire and just about anything else.

    Also, I have been VERY happy with my Sony camera.
    VERY EASY to use. (Dont think I even read the directions)
    I like having the memory stick option. Sony seems
    to be very popular with my department.

    I also save all of my pictures on ofoto. www.ofoto.com
    They offer all the memory you need and other
    people can view and purchase your pics. on real
    kodak paper.

    Again, hope that helps.
    Bou you will have to provide with the link so I can see yours, I also store my photos there
    I use pentax non digital 35 mm camera and I get some good shots with it

  7. #7
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default Hi-

    Engine 101- Please give me your email address.

  8. #8
    Forum Member kghemtp's Avatar
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    Default

    Speaking only from personal use and not fireground photography, digital is an excellent choice. I "inherited" a Sony Mavica from my girlfriend after the display screen got a little scratch and she bought a newer one with greater megapixels. One thing I've noticed in recent years is the increasing ease with which a disk or CD of digital pictures can be printed at photo shops. That used to be the downfall, I thought, of digital photography -- the picture looked great on the display, even better on the computer, then crap printed on paper. Printers are better, resolutions are better, and more services are definitely available for handling this stuff now. Good luck in the research & purchase!
    ~Kevin
    Firefighter/Paramedic
    --^v--^v--^v--^v--
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
    Dennis Miller

  9. #9
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default

    I find that much like film photography, your best bet is an all manual camera where you can "lock" in your exposure settings. When shooting a fire ground I will determine an exposure level based on ambidient lighting (not the fire) and just shoot at that setting. Fire tends to push automatic exposures too far into the underexposure range, you end up with lots of flames but nothing else.

    Typically I will set my exposure using the hand as a grey card trick (palm of the had +2 F stops). Flames will be a little washed out if its on the dark side of daylight, but you will get better foreground details, and with digital you can dodge and burn (with a good photo editing software) as needed to enhance or darken areas. This trick works best just before dusk and has yeilded some really good shots. Just keep in mind that a slow shutter speed will (just like film) result in motion blurring, so its important to steady your camera (but not on the bumper of the pumper running at 1800RPM .

    After dark I will use a flash, but keep in mind the effects the flash may have on the crews working. Using a flash on a dark scene is a good way to make enemies if you are not careful. I always either try to get back shots or warn the crew I am taking the photo. I take multiple photos some with some without the flash, you never know which will look better.

    The beauty of digital is the ability to instantly reveiw the photos to see which look goo and which don't. Play with exposure a little and delete those which look like crap.

    I'll try to post a couple photos here, gotta find those CD's. The one below was taken during live smoke training in a very dark room with the camera set to 1/2sec F4.5, no flash.
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  10. #10
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default

    Here are a series of three photos taken at Mod6 of FF1 this summer. All three were taken as fast as the camera (an Olympus 3 megapixel) would shoot. The first with the flash off and the auto exposure on...
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  11. #11
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    Default

    Taken @ recent training with Olympus 2.1 mp and 10x optical zoom. Taken by my 16 year old daughter
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  12. #12
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default

    Now with the flash off but and a manual exposure of a group of FF'rs behind me in the same light as the subject, You'll notice more details in the foreground and you can almost read the label on the Scott bottle, this one's my favorite of the three...
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    Last edited by Fire304; 08-27-2003 at 11:57 PM.
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  13. #13
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    Default

    I find that much like film photography, your best bet is an all manual camera where you can "lock" in your exposure settings. When shooting a fire ground I will determine an exposure level based on ambidient lighting (not the fire) and just shoot at that setting. Fire tends to push automatic exposures too far into the underexposure range, you end up with lots of flames but nothing else.
    Excellent point. I use a Pentax K1000 as a manual camera. Manual settings are where it's at. The best photographers are those who actually know something about photogrpahy besides "point and shoot".

  14. #14
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    The last shot is same exposure as previous, but with fill flash on, you can see a little detail of the FF'rs back...
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  15. #15
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default

    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    . Manual settings are where it's at. .
    Amen Brother

    For the longest time I wanted to get into color dark room work (I did lots of B&W, but color is too $$$ and time consuming) as I felt that the color correction computers used by most C-41 film developers skewed the colors and exposures too much, often over riding my attempts to get certain effects such as filter work and over/under exposures (braketing especially). Try to get a 2nd print of a photo and it never came out to the same color or exposure.

    Digital has given me the means to really push the envelope and get the results I want. The only problem (for me) is the lack of serious lenses (I have 6 for my SLR Canon F-1 plus a ton of effect filters) and there is a certain warmth that a photo has that a digital print does not. I look forward to the day I can buy a true digital SLR such as the newest Canon EOS digitals. They use real EOS lenses and have a much shorter lag from push the button to exposure.
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  16. #16
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default

    Just adding a few more pic's
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  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber SIGNAL99COM's Avatar
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    Default Sony

    Last year I hung out in several photography website forums, looking for answers to the same question. After many months of listening to different photographers opinions, I ended up buying a Sony DSC-F717 and I love it.

    My fire department wants to purchase a digital camera and has asked me to do the leg work and let them know which camera they should get. I am going to recommend they purchase the new Sony DSC-F828, which is an upgrade to mine which wasn't out yet when I purchased mine.

    Either one is a great camera -

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscf828/
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
    Haz-Mat Technician
    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

  18. #18
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Default

    Bump
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