Q. Do you have any ideas about taking Halloween pictures? I have two youngsters who will again be trick-or-treating in costume this year. Last year's pictures were sort of dumb, especially after I worked so hard on those goblin getups. They were just pictures of kids in the living room, standing there in front of the bookcase, looking pained.
They get so excited about going out for free candy that they are hard to pose.
A. There's nothing wrong with living room shots. Just jazz them up a little. Don't make the kids stand stiffly at attention; let them loosen up and be natural. Make a shot of one adjusting the hat or costume of the other. If they get kind of wild and excited, great! Shoot away.
Try some outdoor shots early on. Get them out trick-or-treating while there's still light. Make some shots from behind them as well as from in front. Be sure to shoot them with their friends -- the more the merrier.
At dusk and after dark, do some flash shots. Walking down the street, ringing doorbells or grouped together near a fancy jack-o-lantern, make pictures kids love to take to school.
Don't pose them -- a little camera mugging is great fun!
Another picture: Before it gets too dark, make a shot of other kids at your door. Turn on your outside light and shoot from inside your house into their faces. If you can, get someone in the foreground, perhaps one of your own kids, handing out treats.
After the bags are full, do some "loot" pictures. Get shots of your kids dumping the stuff out of their bags, and helping you check out the day's spoils. Then watch for the pictures of the kids winding down. The yawns and the dozing will add the final touch.
Q. My husband and I expect to spend the next few weekends, and perhaps some time in between, viewing and photographing the fall foliage. We're willing to drive reasonable distances from our home in the District, but need some advice on taking foliage pictures.
We have a Canon T-70 with a 50mm macro lens and a 70-210mm zoom. We also have one of the Nikon automatic One-Touch compacts.
A. You don't have to travel far. In a couple of hours you can drive to western Maryland or Pennsylvania, or to Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah Valley. For that matter, any of several turnoffs from I-66 can lead you to brilliant leaves and lovely fall flowers.
As you move farther away from the city, keep your eye out for commerical developments. Many are surrounded by trees that reflect into modern glass windows or siding. They are frequently landscaped with fall-blooming flowers that are great subjects for closeups.
You have all the equipment you need, with one exception. Buy a polarizing filter. You'll love the way it deepens colors, increases contrast and reduces glare. You'll find it a useful addition to your camera bag and will use it for much more than just foliage pictures.
As for film, I like the slower stuff. For slides, I use Fujichrome 50, Agfachrome 100 or Kodachrome 64. For prints, I like the Agfacolor 100, Fujicolor 100 or Kodak VRG 100. Every so often, however, I like to experiment. This year I'm trying some Fujicolor 1600, Agfacolor 1000, Kodacolor 1000 and even some Konica 3200! I'll report on these efforts later.
As you shoot, especially on those long, wide-angle general views, don't get too much sky in your pictures: Never have more than a third, and less is better. You'll find that a little blue goes a long way, especially when you use it as a top frame for your picture. If the sky is so blue and filled with white fluffy clouds and you can't resist it, go ahead: Forget the foliage for a few frames and shoot the sky.
Don't worry about too much ground in front of your foliage. Earth tones generally complement the bright leaf colors.
Remember that a great picture has a foreground, a middle ground and a background. A good picture has a foreground and a background. Use a person, a car, a rock or a fence for a foreground to carry attention into the foliage.
Don't forget closeup and macro photography. Fill the frame with color. Try a shot of a hand holding some leaves. Shoot some flowers, and even watch for insects flying around them.
Above all, shoot lots of pictures; you'll have all winter to sort them out.
The fall season of the National Geographic's "Masters of Photography" lectures begins Tuesday with DeWitt Jones on "The Magical Landscape." It will be a tour of the American landscape from New England to the Pacific.
There are three of these traditionally brilliant lectures; a season ticket is $18. 857-7133.