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Camera Clues

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Camera Clues

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Camera Clues
A Handbook for Photographic Investigation
By Joe Nickell
The University Press of Kentucky, 2005
ISBN: 0-8131-9124-6

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - Posted February 27, 2012

There is an old saying, "that the camera sees what they eye cannot." As such, photography can be used successfully in mystery writing to present clues, pinpoint the culprit, to highlight an investigative procedure, or as a simple plot element. In Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation Joe Nickell proffers a compelling and readable guide to photographic investigation. Nickell details a broad range of topics from how to identify a copy and date a photograph to how photography is used in crime scene investigation and hidden clues that you can find in a photograph that can help you identify the subject.

The text begins with a general overview of the history of photography and the development of the photographic process. The book then branches out to detail how photos can be dated, how to detected copies and fakes, tips on identifying individuals in old photographs, the uses of investigate photography, trick photography, and paranormal photography. In the two chapters that concentrate on paranormal photography, Nickell examines pictures of spirits, UFOs, legendary creatures, and psychokinetic photographs. Nickell explores how these photos are made, and the techniques that investigators use to debunk them.

Throughout Nickell has included photographic examples of the material covered, as well as numerous examples of real-life use of the various techniques discussed in the book. While the bulk of this book is devoted to the examination of old photographs such as daguerreotypes and tintypes, Nickell also provides insight into modern photographic investigative methods, such as using computers to manipulate a picture.

Camera Clues is an interesting book to read, and one which provides a great deal of fodder for potential story lines, as well as offering an abundance of information that can be used to enliven a given story or novel. The text is written in non-technical jargon, and the examples provided throughout the text make it easy to understand and apply the information that is presented. For those who want to pursue any topic in this book in greater detail, a list of recommended works is included at the end of each chapter that can be uses as a guide for further study into this exciting field. In addition to mystery and crime writers, this book will fascinate genealogists, historians, and sleuths of every ilk.

Joe Nickell is a Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). He is also the author of Detecting Forgery: Forensic Investigation of Documents and the co-author of Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection.

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