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Authors: Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams

Biomedical Applications: Forensic

Application Notes Reference
Old hammer blow Reported the value of this technique for showing up old traumatic injuries and showed an example of some hammer blows to the head. Cameron et al. 1973
Bite marks Reported that ultraviolet photography could show up wounds between 3 and 6 months old but that there was a period (about 2 months) after the initial injury where no record could be obtained. Explained the phenomenon as being due to the absorption of melanin by ultraviolet and the notion that 'melanocyte migration' was occurring. Ruddick 1974
Bruises Showed that old bruises (2-5 months) could be recorded with the ultraviolet technique. Used Ruddick's 'melanocyte migration' theory as an explanation and noted that care should be taken when evaluating a negative result, ie., no recording of an old bruise with ultraviolet photography. Hempling 1981
Bite marks Presented several cases showing old bite marks which were not visible but were evident in the ultraviolet record. Stated that the result was time dependent and there were no established guidelines for determining the proper timing for the photography. Krauss and Warlen 1985
Bite marks Showed that ultraviolet photographs exposed immediately after the bite were more contrasty than conventional photography. By the second day no discernible bite mark was evident visually---Only large areas of bruising-nothing was recorded on the ultraviolet record. By the 17th day however the bite mark pattern began to reappear in the ultraviolet photographs despite being invisible to the naked eye.
Clarity of this record was best at 60 days, after which it gradually decreased.
West, Billings and Frair 1987
Bite marks Showed that the reflected ultraviolet technique was useful for recording old bite marks (over 60 days old) and other lacerations because of textural changes left behind on the skin. Frair and West 1989
Bite marks and bruises Described how lesions which were invisible to the eye were clearly revealed by reflected ultraviolet photography including a bite mark on an assailant's hand, old bruises and linear abrasions on the back of an abused child and healed injuries on the back of a victim of prison violence. West, Frair and Seal 1989
Bite marks Showed that hypo- and hyper-pigmentary effects were often noticeable after trauma-and that these disturbances in melanin pigmentation were recorded more clearly with ultraviolet photography. Krauss 1989
Bite marks Reported capturing a five-month old bite month that became critical evidence. David 1994


  • Cameron, J., Ruddick, R. and Grant, J., 1973, "Ultraviolet photography in medicine," Forensic Photogr. 2 (3):9-12.
  • David, T. J. 1994. "Recapturing a five month-old bite mark by means of reflective ultraviolet photography. J. Forensic Sci., 39(6): 1560-7.
  • Frair, J. & West, M., 1989, "Ultraviolet forensic photography," Kodak Tech Bits 2:3-11.
  • Hempling, S., 1981, "The applications of clinical forensic medicine," Med. Sci. Law 21 (3):215-222.
  • Krauss, T. & Warlen, S., 1985, "The forensic science uses of reflective ultraviolet photography," J. Forensic Sci. 30 (1): 262-268.
  • Krauss, T., 1989, "Close-up medical photography: forensic considerations and techniques," In:Legal Medicine Wecht, C. (Ed).Butterworths. USA.
  • Ruddick, R., 1974, A technique for recording bite marks for forensic studies," Med. BioI. Illustr.24:128-129.
  • West, M., Billings, J. & Frair, J., 1987, "Ultraviolet photography: bite marks on human skin and suggested technique for the exposure and development of reflective ultraviolet photography," J. Foren. Sci. 32 (5):1204-1213.
  • West, M., Frair, J. & Seal, M., 1989, "Ultraviolet photography of wounds on human skin," J. Foren. ldent. 39 (2):87-96.

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Last modified: 3 May 2002