Q.

I have a Nikon FG that I'm comfortable with for general photography. Now I'd like to do some more interesting shots. I want to do closeups, such as individual flowers, and storm shots, particularly lightning. What do you recommend?

A.

The time has come for you to spend some money. First there are two books you should look at. One is How to Use Your Nikon SLR Camera. (HPB Books, $12.95); it will show you everything that can be done with Nikon equipment.

The second is The Step-by-Step Guide to Photography, by Michael Langford (Alfred A. Knopf, $19.95). Between these two you'll get to know your hardware and lots of shooting ideas.

Next, think about buying a macro-zoom lens. I would suggest you look at the 35-70mm or the 28-70mm. With this lens you increase your versatility tenfold.

I also advise you to buy a tripod and a cable release for special- effects shooting. You'll need both. One last thing: Try to experiment with various speeds of film. The effects vary greatly between the ISO 50 Fujichrome and the Konica 3200 ISO.

Q.

I will be taking a cruise along the Alaskan coast later this summer. This will include a day in Glacier Bay as well as other scenic points. What film and equipment do you suggest taking? I will be shooting those glaciers and other scenery from a moving and rolling ship. I have a Canon A1 and usually shoot Kodachrome 64.

A.

I talked to two professionals who have been to Alaska recently. We all agreed that for a trip of this kind you should take at least two cameras (three would be better), a variety of lenses, a tripod, a cable release and a polarizing filter.

It's good to have a telephoto of 200-300mm, but you will most need wide-angle lenses; everyone tells me of sweeping vistas and wonderful wide-angle montages.

For your film, your Kodachrome 64 is fine, but take some Ektachrome 100 and some Fujichrome 50. Be sure to take some print film, too. I'd stick to the 100 and 200 ISO but carry several rolls of the Fujicolor 400.

I wouldn't worry too much about the ship's roll. If you can handle it yourself without being sick, you'll be able to make pictures. Use a shutter speed of at least 1/250th of a second and you'll do well.

The slides I saw showed that the air in Alaska is very clear; there's very little haze and the colors are crisp and well saturated.

Q.

I took a great picture of my dog during the February snows. He is standing shoulder-deep in snow, with more snow on his face and on the pine tree branches behind him.

I would like to use this shot on a Christmas card. I am particular about quality. What kind of company do I take this picture to and is this process expensive?

A.

This is the time of year to get started on this type of project. Usually by late August Kodak begins its advertising campaign for these cards.

There are also custom labs in the area that make this kind of card and offer a fine selection of formats.

The ones I had done by Kodak a couple of years ago cost between 35 and 50 cents a card.

Look in the phone book for custom photographic labs and make some calls. For Kodak, check your camera store in about six weeks.

Here's a photo hint from Kathryn Hunter of Takoma Park:

I like to take pictures of relaxed unposed "natives" when I travel. But if they know they are being photographed, many people will either pose or object. My technique is to have a decoy (usually my husband) pose just to one side of my real subject.

It looks to all but the most astute as though I am taking my husband's picture. I get the pictures I want without offending local people. In fact, the person I have been stealthily photographing will often come over and ask me to take their picture.

Carl Kramer deals with questions of general interest but cannot respond individually. Address him c/o Weekend, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington DC 20071.