Close-Up Medical Photography

October 8, 2009 § 2 Comments


Diagram from "The Use of Close-up Photography in Clinical Medicine".

I recently came across an article called “The Use of Close-up Photography in Clinical Medicine”, from the June 1962 issue of the Singapore Medical Journal.  Although the photographic equipment has changed over the years, the principles remain the same, and are well described in this paper.

The article lists five basic technical principles and six requirements for good close-up photography. Here are the five principles translated to modern terminology (the numerals relate to the diagram above):

I. Small aperture for large depth-of-field and sharpness.
II. Flash to facilitate fast shutter speeds.
III. Macro lenses.
IV. Tripod for steadiness.
V. Use the depth-of-field preview button to define area of focus.

The six requirements for a close-up clinical photograph don’t need any translation. They are just as clear and true today, as when they were written:

A good close-up medical photograph should be:

  1. SHARP The whole purpose of a close-up of a lesion is to bring up its details. A photograph which does not bring up such details has lost most of its value for clinical medical use.
  2. CLEAR Distracting objects such as dressings over wounds, ear-rings or ointment over or around the lesion must be removed.
  3. CONTRAST The contrast must be clear. If too low the picture will lose its emphasis and if too contrasty, details will not be shown.
  4. BACKGROUND The background should be plain to avoid distraction.
  5. SCALE This is important especially when an accurate information of its size is to be of clinical significance.
  6. REPEATED PHOTOGRAPHS These should have the same view, position and lighting and unless standardized will not be convincing nor be of satisfactory comparison.

Read/download the entire article here.

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