Q. Do you know of any reasonable means of maintaining proper temperatures for paper processing solutions in this hot weather?

I don't have much of a problem with film processing, because it's easy to pop a pint of developer into the freezer for a few minutes. For printing, this seems impractical. What say you?

A. This is, indeed, one of the most annoying problems of the summer.

I have two suggestions: First, if your tap water runs fairly cool, as mine does, make a tray water jacket. That is, put an 8x10 tray inside a larger tray (11x14 or bigger) and run cooler water into it to surround the smaller tray; keep the water running. I have an old 16x20 tray that I drilled a few holes in, and it works fine -- water flows in one side and out the holes on the other side.

You don't have to drillholes, by the way. You can mount the smaller tray on some plastic blocks high enough that the water doesn't run into the developer.

Second, get a couple of those "blue ice" devices used in picnic coolers and keep them in the freezer. If your tray temperature goes up, pop a "blue ice" into a clean plastic bag and swirl it through the chemistry.

Remember, don't just cool the developer. Cool developer, fixer and short stop if you use it.


Q. After years with a Leica (IIIf), a succession of Nikons, and even a Speed Graphic, I found my cousins using the Nikon 135 AF -- the ultra-automated snapshot camera. I bought one for myself several months ago and am enjoying the machine very much. I shoot color print film in it and reserve the Nikon heavy artillery for black and white.

But, my cousins and I are discovering that nothing is foolproof. One was snapping away merrily one afternoon when the other asked if she had loaded the camera. Sure enough, she hadn't.

The focus, while "automatic," is still tricky. All of us, it turns out, have neglected, at least once, to follow the focusing directions -- aim the camera so the center dot covers what you're aiming at OR aim it at the thing you want to be in focus (if it isn't in the center), then lock in the focus by depresssing the trigger half way, readjust the frame and shoot.

Did you ever forget and leave the switch on and the flash up? Hope you brought along a set of spare batteries.

Then the ultimate mistake. I ran a roll through the camera, rewound it, then proceeded to reload the same roll and run it through the camera again!

When you think that you don't have to think, you wind up getting a fresh education.

A. Problems we have all encountered. Once your concentation goes, everything falls apart.

Yet, I still preach the value of the automatics. They do so much that you can spend your time and effort composing that special prize-winner.