Q.

I like to visit fairs, and expect to go to several in the next six or eight weeks. I would like to take some livestock pictures and then move over to the home-baked products and take some more.

I have a single lens reflex with a 35- to 85mm zoom lens and small flash.

What should I be looking for?

A.

Livestock at fairs do make great subjects. In many cases these animals are tame and docile, and you can approach close enough to shoot with a normal lens or even a compact wide angle. Further, these animals are usually controlled by a trainer who can help you get the shots you want.

What do you want? Use your zoom and make some tight closeups of animals' heads. Cows, horses and mules have remarkably animated ears and elegant, intelligent eyes.

Be sure you make some full-length shots, too. Horses have strong shoulders and powerful legs that are great for pictures.

Take some pictures of the animals as they are exercised. This often includes a walk around the area where judging will take place. Be sure that you make some shots with the handlers and keepers in action. Look for leather cinches and straps being tied down, and the animals being brushed and groomed.

Next, look for group pictures. Pigs in a pen, especially those with distinctive markings, make a fine pattern picture. Don't overlook fowl, such as chickens, duck and geese. Often geese are uncaged and roam the grounds.

As to the rest of the fair: For the pictures of home-baked pies and cakes, be sure that you include the cook with the product. Try to be there for the judging; there are wonderful pictures of cooks watching judges do their judging to be had. Watch the winners when the ribbons are announced. Their reactions are spontaneous and joyful.

Make pictures of the rest of the fair activity, too. Rides, such as the ferris wheel and those spinning buckets, are super. Your zoom works well for closeups of kids screaming in delight. In fact, those rides are usually covered with lights, and make great after-dark pictures. A tripod is best for this, but you can rest your camera on the hood of a car or a fence, and shoot at a slow speed. You'll be delighted with the effects.

Remember to shoot some black and white film. These kinds of pictures are always useful for political newsletters, school annoucements and for presentation to your local press.

Q.

Can you tell me what the word "pixels" means. Is this another word for graininess in film?

A.

Pixel is a contraction of the words picture and elements. It is a measure of information gathering usually concerned with electronic imaging. It has nothing to do with grain.

Pixels measure the amount of photons in action and voltage being received for electronic picture display. They are receptors.

The problem is that since the pixel system worked so well for electronics, it became associated with standard photography. This is mixing apples and oranges, but the need is there. Example: Most of the video still cameras that now exist are rated at about 300,000 pixels.

To produce a practical picture for publication, those numbers have to grow to at least 1,250,000. It's not too far away, but it isn't here yet. (Kodachrome 64, for example, is rated at 16 million pixels.)

Q.

I recently purchased a Kodak disc camera. I really enjoy the ease of operation and the fact that taking pictures is not such an expensive hobby.

There is one thing that bothers me about my pictures. In many of them, there seems to be a black line around some of the heads and even around the shoulders of some of my subjects. Mostly I have taken pictures around my office and at my craft classes. What could cause this?

A.

Take a long hard look at those "black lines." Use a magnifying glass! I think you'll find that the lines are really shadows. I have seen this occur intermittently on several makes of disc, and found that it helps to shoot down slightly. Stand on your toes or on a small stool.

I always carry plastic bags, either in my camera bag or in my car. I find them very useful. I use the big green trash bags to sit or kneel on while shooting. I also find this size very useful to keep rain and moisture off my packed camera bag or to drape over a standing tripod. I even have pressed such a bag into service as rain gear.

I also carry several of the large clear bags. You can hold your camera inside one of these and shoot in the rain.

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