I'm an amateur photographer interested in taking night shots of illuminated buildings and monuments.

Besides using a tripod and a slow shutter speed, is there a certain type of lens, filter or film to ensure a good photo? A. The trick to night photography is not lens, filter or film -- but exposure and the time of evening.

The exposure it critical because, overexposed, the photo will lose in the highlight areas, and underexposed, the dark shadow parts will suffer. You can correct for exposure in black-and-white by printing in the highlight sections, but there's not much you can do for color slides: they'll simply look washed out.

For correct exposure, the best time to shoot your illuminated night scenes is not at night, but at dusk, when lights are turned on but you can still see daylight detail. This is the magic moment when the sky turns an indigo blue, the building or monument is outlined in black and the night-lighting turns the statues golden.

There's an artist's trick to determine when the proportion of daylight to illumination light is just right for this kind of picture. Squint your eyes while looking at the scene and take the picture when you can still see the outline of the building or statue against the sky.

Be sure to use Daylight-type film, not Tungsten, because daylight film gives redder light coloring on the illuminated sections. As for exposure, shoot at the setting shown by your through-the-lens meter or use a basic exposure of 1 second at f/4 for films of ASA 50 to 64; 1/2 second at f/4 for ASA 125 to 200; and 1/8 of a second for ASA 200 to 400.

Whether you use the through-the-lens meter or these basic exposures, be sure to make additional snaps at both more and less exposure, for instance. Q. I'm having difficulties taking sunset pictures. I use a Minolta SRT 101 and Kodak 400 slide film. I have also used ASA 64 and ASA 200 slide films with equally poor results. What's wrong? A. The two most common problems in shooting sunsets are color and exposure. If you don't, the only recourse is to use filters. I have saved some sunsets by using an orange or even a red filter over the lens. This, or course, gives and over-all color cast, so it's not nearly as effective as a full sunset with varied hues.

The problem of best exposure can be easily solved by taking your meter reading only from the sky. Tilt the camera up so that all you see is the sky and use that exposure setting when taking your sunset scene. If you're in a spot where you can't do this, stop down one stop from the indicated meter setting, for full sky color. Either method will give you more color saturation and provide a spectacular sunset instead of a blah. Q. I inherited an Argus C3 Camera that looks brand new. I would like to buy the tele lens and the flash equipment that comes with it. But when I called the company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I was told that they were out of business. Any ideas? A. Unfortunately one runs into this problem of non-availability of parts for discontinued cameras, though the problem isn't only photographic. Have you tried matching the shingles on your discontinued roofing?

The Argus C-3 was not an expensive camera when it came out in 1940. It sold for $30, and according to the Blue Book Illustrated Guide to Collectible Cameras, it's worth even less today.

I suggest you run an ad in one of two publications -- perhaps someone has the equipment you want. Try Shutterbug Ads, which claims to have more than 20,000 subscribers. For six cents a word ($1 minimum) you can run an ad. The adress is: Shutterbug Ads, P.O. Box 730, Titusville, Flordia, 32780.

It doesn't pay to have a lens adapted for this camera since it was only a production cheapie and wouldn't justify the cost. Q. I have been having trouble taking flash pictures of fish in aquariums. My pictures all show extensive glass reflections and streaks and the fish barely show up at all. Should I be using any special film, lens or filter to correct for this? A. You don't need special film, lens or a filter. All you lack is an extension cord for your flash so that the light won't reflect back into the lens. You can buy such an extension cord at your photo shop.

If the aquarium is small, hold the flash directly over the top of the water and connect it to your camera with the extension cord. This way you'll have a natural, non-reflected light source on your flash pictures taken through the glass.

If the aquarium is a large one, use the same technique of holding the flash connected by the extension cord away from the camera. You can flash right through the glass and not get reflections if this system is used. If you can't handle both the flash and the camera ask a bystander to hold the flash for you. Q. Why is it that when I send in slides for reprints they are always returned from the lab with fingerprints on them? Won't such prints affect the quality of the slide if they remain on the surface? Is there any way to remove such fingerprints -- or is it better to just leave them alone? A. First of all, I'm shocked that any reputable lab would commit this cardinal photographic sin. If you have reason to believe that fingerprints are put on your slides during lab processing, then it's a case of negligence. Laboratory personnel should use cotton gloves when handling transparencies and most of them do. By all means take your slides and prints to the lab and make a personal complaint to the manager; you will be doing not only yourself a favor but other clients as well.

As for the split milk, the fingerprints alreay there -- I would ask the lab to take care of cleaning them. But if you prefer to do your own, then use cotton Q-tips moistened in film cleaner. (Kodak makes this as well as Edwal). Rub the surface gently with a circular motion and inspect the film surface under reflected light to see if the prints are cleared.

Recent fingerprints should be quite easily wiped off but older ones will be stubborn. There is one caution to keep in mind. The glossy side of the slide can be rubbed harder because it is the back of the film, but be careful with the dull, emulsion coating because there you can damage the image.