How do I keep my flash from reflecting off shiny surfaces and therefore becoming the center of attention? I have a compact camera, and the flash goes off when the camera thinks it is necessary, rather than when I think it is.

It seems to me that the flash reflection gets into my shots frequently enough to cause distractions. I was particularly upset at the reflections that ruined my pictures of a bust of Thomas Jefferson I took at Charlottesville. What can I do?


You have to compose more carefully in your camera's viewfinder. Since your compact's lens is somewhere between 30 and 75mm in focal length, you have to stand fairly close to such subjects as that marble bust. And, if the light level is low, you'll probably get a flash.

Be sure that you keep your eye up close to the viewfinder and see where the flash hits. If you see a strong reflection, try to change your position, perhaps to the other side of your subject, and shoot again. If you still see a reflection, do something drastic! Try holding a handkerchief a couple of inches in front of the flash (be careful not to block the lens) to cut down the amount of flash reaching the subject. This sometimes works.

Some of the compacts have a "flash fill" mode that reduces the amount of flash output. Try it -- it may be the answer.

One other thing. I always advise people, even those who carry compacts, to carry a few square feet of aluminum foil with them.

This makes a great reflector and sometimes will throw enough light on a shiny subject to keep the flash from firing.

But don't do away with all reflections. Properly shot, reflections are among my favorite pictures, especially with autumn leaf pictures. Reflecting those colors in the glass walls of a building or on the windshield of a car can make great shots.

If you get the opportunity, try making some reflection in a pool of water after a rainstorm. If the day is too gray after a storm, try making your own pool with a garden hose.

Here's what promises to be one of the major club events of the fall:

The NIH R&W camera club is sponsoring a Fall Photography Workshop near Front Royal, Va., from early Friday, October 23 until early afternoon Sunday, October 25.

The weekend offers a full program of lectures and field trips. The lectures will be given by Joe Schershel, a former top photographer at the National Geographic, and John W. Boretos, long-time photography teacher at the NIH Graduate School.

The scheduled field trips include sunrise and sunset shooting along Skyline Drive, nature photography and a visit to a winery.

The workshop cost is $150 per person, and includes seven meals, a barbeque, lodging and the rest of the program.

For more information, call John Boretos at 496-5771 or 460-8448.

The White House News Photographers' Association's exhibit will be at the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson building until October 25. If you haven't seen it, make some time for it. You'll see one show-stopper after another.

Take a special look at the work of Margaret Thomas of The Washington Post, who was named Photographer of the Year by the Association.

Here's a nifty new accessory. It's called a Lens Cap Holder, and that's what it does. It has an elastic band on one side that fits around the barrel of your lens and a small button on the other that sticks to your lens cap. The adhesive is pressure- sensitive and holds very well. The elastic band that connects the parts is the right length. It doesn't interfere with your shooting.

Distributed by Rokunar, the Lens Cap Holder sells for about $1.50.

Send your photography questions to Carl Kramer, c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St., NW, Washington DC 20071.