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Beneath cover-up tattoos: possibilities and limitations of various photographic techniques.

Authors
  • Holz, F1
  • Birngruber, C G2
  • Ramsthaler, F3
  • Verhoff, M A4
  • 1 Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital of Frankfurt, Goethe University, Kennedyallee 104, 60596, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. [email protected] , (Germany)
  • 2 Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 3 Institute of Legal Medicine, Saarland University, Homburg, Saar, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 4 Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital of Frankfurt, Goethe University, Kennedyallee 104, 60596, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. , (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Journal of Legal Medicine
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2020
Volume
134
Issue
2
Pages
697–701
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00414-019-02007-2
PMID: 30706194
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The goal of this study was to investigate the usefulness of various photographic techniques in visualizing previous tattoos under cover-up tattoos. Ten volunteers with 11 known cover-up tattoos were examined using different photographic techniques: A Canon EOS 6D full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera used in conjunction with a SB600 off-camera flash system and an extension cord; and a Leica M8 digital imaging system camera in conjunction with two different infrared filters (715 nm and 850 nm) and a Metz CL-45 handle-mount flash. A Lumatec Superlite 400 forensic light source was used along with the Canon EOS 6D as a third system. The best results for black cover-up tattoos were achieved with the full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera in conjunction with the off-camera flash system and, for colored cover-up tattoos, with IR-photography at a wavelength of 850 nm. The Lumatec Superlite 400 light source did not provide better results for conventional photography than those obtained with flash lighting. In nine out of eleven cover-up tattoos, the previous tattoos could, at least, be partially visualized. The quality of the visualization depended on the color, pattern, density, and quality of the cover-up tattoo as well as on the photographic technique. None of the examined photographic techniques could satisfactorily image the previous tattoo if the cover-up tattoo was large and black, especially not if it was densely inked. Depending on the color of the cover-up tattoo, a full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera in conjunction with a SB600 off-camera flash system (for black cover-ups) or infrared photography with flash lighting and an 850 nm filter (for colored cover-ups) proved to be the best of the investigated techniques to visualize a previous tattoo under a cover-up tattoo.

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