Tips on how to photograph scratches in glass?

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Mike Barnard, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. Mike Barnard

    Mike Barnard Guest

    Hi all.

    I have an unusual one for you today. I'm new to this group as I'm not
    a photographer. I work for a council and a part of my job is catching
    graffiti vandals.

    One such vandal (well, a lot of them, but we've identified this one)
    scratches his tag into shop windows. I want to photograph them for
    evidence but no matter what I do I can't get it to show up against the
    other reflections and items.

    I have a digital compact issued by work and a Sony A230 at home. I
    don't have any filters, special lenses, etc.

    Can anyone advise, please?

    Many thanks.
    Mike Barnard, Sep 17, 2010
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  2. Mike Barnard

    John Bean Guest

    I know several "photographic" methods but unless you want to start at
    the bottom of a steep learning curve I won't go there...

    I'd try rubbing some white chalk into the scratches - or even some
    "liquid" chalk beloved by writers of pub menus - then wipe over with a
    cloth to clean it off the glass. That should show up in your snaps.
    John Bean, Sep 17, 2010
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  3. Mike Barnard

    Chris H Guest

    That may be seen as "tampering with the evidence". Check with local
    police first. They know about photographing evidence that is admissible
    in court.

    I shoot (Nikon) RAW with the no-tampering settings when I do stuff for
    the police.

    If you "do things" to the scratch or I suggest to you "paint your own
    lines on" so that it looks worst that it really is when my client
    accidentally knocked against the window...

    or I suggest you could have taken the image into a photo editing package
    and make it look more than it is..... Can you prove this JPG is "as

    Besides my client was not there he was nicking fags down the high
    street.... (and 453 other offences to be taken into account:)
    Chris H, Sep 17, 2010
  4. Mike Barnard

    Chris H Guest

    Try putting a sheet of plain black card (a3 cartridge paper?) behind the
    glass. The scratches will show up on that.

    Filters.... polarising might filters work. I know you don't have
    filters and in any case there is no filter thread on the camera. However
    you do have polarised sunglasses? Try those in front of the lens. Might

    You may have to use a different camera that can handle this sort of

    Where in the UK are you? You may find some photographers interested in
    helping if it gets rid of a few thugs.

    I assume you will be executing the guilty ones? :)
    Chris H, Sep 17, 2010
  5. Mike Barnard

    John Bean Guest

    Depends on the purpose of the evidence. I assumed it was to show the
    "tag" that the scratches represented rather than the actual physical
    damage they made to the glass. It demonstrates that it was deliberate.

    Best to check, of course.
    John Bean, Sep 17, 2010
  6. I was going to suggest that PLUS black card reflecting over the image
    so other reflections are not caught and distracting. A strong side light
    with this may give better highlights on the damage.

    Michael J Davis, Sep 17, 2010
  7. Mike Barnard

    OG Guest

    I was going to suggest *white* card behind the glass and use a mini maglite
    or similar to illuminate the glass. The scratch should show as a shadow on
    the card.

    I've not tried it, but using as small a light source as possible should give
    the strongest contrast on the shadow. It may work if you mask the flash to
    allow light to pass through only a small area of the flash.

    If in sunlight, just use that!.
    OG, Sep 20, 2010
  8. Mike Barnard

    Mike Barnard Guest

    Hi all.

    Apols for the delay in replying. New install of Win7 and reinstalling
    my stuff.

    Thanks for all the ideas. I have not yet tried them, but I will next
    week. I have a phone number for the local SOCO's so it will be
    interesting to see their systems.

    I'll let you know what works.

    Mike Barnard, Sep 21, 2010
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