Q.

A group of us who meet on a more-or-less regular basis to do darkroom work found your column on old photo albums thought-provoking. Our question seeks information on display of pictures.

We are having some measure of success with our color printing, but almost none with our "post production" display.

Most times those great prints end up in an album that ends up in a drawer. What do you do with yours?

A.

I go off in several directions, depending on the picture.

For a long time I was fortunate enough for my display to be in publication.

Currently, I do use a photo album, but more often I go for the wall -- a thing I recommend to all.

First pick a room to hang your pictures. Make sure that there's lots of traffic through it so that lots of people can see your work.

Then be sure that the lighting will show off your prints to the greatest advantage. You don't need special floods or spots; just look at the pictures under normal daylight and then with the room's standard artifical lighting.

Then do some of your own matting and framing. There are some wonderful framing shops in the area, but you can get a great deal of satisfaction by doing it yourself.

Don't be concerned about buying a fancy matte cutter. There are a lot of superior mattes available in all sizes.

But you don't even need these! Check your specialty store or art supply store; you can buy large sheets of posterboard or heavy paper at very reasonable prices. These can be cut to the size of your frame and your print placed on top.

Try some different colors. Surprise yourself by seeing how the mood of a picture changes as you vary the color of the framed background.

I like to leave about one inch of border at the sides and top and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches at the bottom.

As to frames: I prefer wooden ones, but in the past year have discovered that some of the new plastic frames are great and graceful. I used to hate plastic frames -- they were just too tacky. The new ones are very rich looking. Wooden frames aren't cheap, but they are usually on sale at one place or another. When I discover a sale, I stock up.

I do like no-glare glass, but have found that regular hardware store glass works well. I recently discovered plastic "glass" and plan to stick with it for a while. It's no-glare and inexpensive.

Once you have framed your picture, hang it on that special wall. If you do one, hang it in the middle of the wall. When you've done another, hang it nearby! As you get more, hang more. Fill up that wall with your favorite images. After a while, rearrange them and take a new view. As you get new prints, do some frame-changing and rehanging.

Looking at your prints this way is at least half the fun.

Q.

I would like to try hand coloring some black-and-white prints. Could you tell me what type of paint I would have to use. If it is very special paint, where can I get it? Can I use regular artist's oil paint? Can I use regular latex paint, which works so well on walls?

A.

First let me tell you what not to use. Forget about that latex wall paint, or for that matter, any house paint. You should also forget about artists' oils.

What you need is Marshall's transparent prints oils. Many area camera stores stock it and can show you how to apply it. Remember, you have to use fiber-based prints; the plastic paper won't absorb properly.

I visited the Bessler Photo Products factory in Florham Park, New Jersey, a couple of weeks ago to look at state-of-the-art color darkroom equipment.

I was impressed.

There was a lot of production-line work going on, but most of it was handwork.

I was particularly impressed with the ladies making enlarger bellows -- what fine craftspeople!

Now I'm setting up my own color darkroom. As I learn, I'll report.

Here's another use for those plastic film containers: storing the small things that I need for matting and framing pictures.

I keep various sizes of brads and nails, paper clips of different kinds, and little framing screws in them.

The clear containers are best, but the opaque ones work fine, too. I just tape a sample of what's inside on the outside for instant recognition.

Write to Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington DC 20071.