Q. My question is about the bad results I get when I try to take pictures of my kids and part of them are in shade and part are in the sun. If I aim the camera at the sunny part, the others are too dark. If I aim at the shadow part, the sunlit side is washed out and colorless. What to do?

Q. I have an automatic camera. It takes terrific pictures when the ambient light near the camera is the same as on the object being photographed, whether it is dark or light. But if, for example, I am standing in a light place taking a picture of something dark a distance away, or vice versa, the subjects are either under- overexposed. Is there any way to overcome this?

A. This, unfortunately, reflects a disadvantage of some automatic cameras. Many don't have spot-metering capability; they meter the scene in a general way.

So, if you're standing in the light, the meter will read the light around you.

The best thing is to use your flash whenever you can. This will give you an even exposure in most cases.

The half-sun, half-shade situation can be handled the same way. If you have a flash, use it.

If not, try some experimenting with aluminum foil reflectors. Wrap some foil around a good-sized piece of cardboard. Position it in the shady side to reflect the light from the sunny side onto your subjects. You'll have more light and some interesting results. In fact, a roll of aluminum foil may become part of your regular equipment.

WINTER WARNING

Now that we've had some very cold days, a number of people have asked why the film broke in their cameras. In all but one case, the break came during rewinding. This doesn't surprise me; I've had it happen, too.

When the temperature falls below freezing,and especially when it's below about 20 degrees, be careful. If you've had your camera out in the cold for more than half an hour, try not to rewind it in the cold. Cold film becomes stiff and brittle.

Take it inside and let it warm up for as long as you can. If you're in a hurry, carefully blow some warm (not hot) air from a hair dryer across the camera back. If that's not possible, get the heater of your car working and place your camera near the vent until it gets warm.

If all else fails, stuff the camera in a warm pocket for a while.

All this is especially important with some of the new cameras that rewind automatically. Keep a close eye on your film count, so that you can either rewind manually, or warm up the film before the automatic rewinder takes over.

ONE MORE BOOK

This has to be the neatest package of the season -- the "Kodak Pocket Guide to 35 mm Photography." It's published by Simon and Schuster and costs about $5, depending on where you buy it. It's small (about 3i x 6i) but very big on content. The writers and editors did a great job.

The Guide has a series of compact, beautifully illustrated entries ranging from action shots to zoo photography. In between there are discussions of such things as exposure, lighting, composition, close- ups and special effects photography. There are also exposure tables and lens comparison pictures.

No matter what the level of your expertise, you'll find something new and helpful here.