Digital Camera Guidance for EPA Civil Inspections and Investigations
EPA inspectors often include photographs taken during the inspection in the inspection report to support their observations. Credibility of the digital image (as well as any photographic image whether digital or film) and acceptability in court (i.e. evidence) depends on the ability of the photographer (or the witness who was present when the photograph was taken) to authenticate the photograph by answering the simple question: Is this a fair and accurate representation of what one saw? To address potential concerns, this paper sets forth EPA's guidance on the use of digital photographs and identifies requirements necessary to ensure the integrity of the pictures. Credibility of digital images in court usually depends on reliability, reproducibility, and security. It is acceptable to make changes to digital images such as cropping, enlarging, or making it lighter/darker to improve the sharpness provided the inspector records how, when, and where the picture was taken, Logs the steps used in processing the image when they include techniques other than those used in a traditional photographic darkroom. The inspector must be familiar with the use of various features of the digital camera. He should inspect for any regularities in the beginning. He should know how to store the images and give dates for proper records. Thus he should know the use of the storage media card also.