Q. I live in a tiny apartment and use the bathroom for black-and-white film developing and some printing. Unfortunately, with windows covered and door frames taped to keep out the light, the chemical fumes become oppressive. Are they dangerous?
A. While chemical air pollution isn't good for anyone, you're not in much danger from the developer and hypo fumes in the darkroom. You're probably smelling acetic acid in the stop bath and fixing solution. That sharp, bitter smell isn't pleasant, but not very hazardous in small quantities.
A simple way to make the air in a small darkroom bearable is to use a small electric fan (the $10 to $15 variety) to keep the air moving. Just be careful about where you put the fan so that in the dim light of your darkroom there won't be any accidents or electric shocks.
Q. After what time period do I assume that technological advances have probably made my 16-year-old Canon obsolete?
A. In my opinion, obsolescence in cameras is hard to come by. Unless the lens mount is changed or a dramatic restyling occurs, cameras in good repair can keep doing their job.
However, 1968 automobiles did their job, too, and in some cases, still do. Still, I prefer to own both a 1968 rebuilt car and a 1985 car. The same is true with cameras. I have two Canons that are 12 years old, as well as my updated equipment.
Camera technology has made huge leaps forward. Cameras now focus themselves, select the proper speed and aperture and even load and unload themselves. The new cameras are great fun and do a fine job. Just remember, good pictures are made with your head, not your fingers.
Carl Kramer, former director of photography for The Washington Post, will try to answer your photography questions in his column, but cannot reply individually. Send your questions to: Carl Kramer, c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20071. SNAPS FOR ALL SEASONS
Amateur photographers who do their best work in the outdoors should begin printing now. The Maryland Forest, Park and Wildlife Service is sponsoring its annual photo contest with prizes awarded on both the local and statewide levels. All pictures must have been taken since August 1, 1984 in a state park, forest or wildlife area. Entries must be 8i by 10i matted black-and-white or color prints. The deadline for entries is August 15.