Q.I am a free-lance photographer with a nagging darkroom problem. I live in a small studio apartment and use my kitchen as a black and white darkroom. I have housed all the equipment well and have sufficient work space, but have been unable to control chemical fumes and the humidity which build up after a long session. I have tried using a Spiratone air cleaner to clean the air and a small fan to circulate the air, but neither helps very much. There is no typical exhaust fan in the kitchen; exhaust is removed (from cooking) by a rather inefficient vent that is connected to the ac/heat system.
I have tried taking frequent breaks so as to allow the kitchen to air out, but even that's not highly effective.
Is there any solution short of hiring proper darkroom space somewhere?
A.Since you have tried all the obvious and usually recommended remedies, you'll have to consider some drastic action.
You have to get that air moving. When it doesn't, the problem usually is that there isn't enough intake. When we make darkrooms at home, we tend to block all of the air intake supply in order to achieve total darkness.
I would suggest several things: First, get a bigger fan and aim it at the ceiling. This will aid air movement if not intake. There may be enough movement to make longer darkroom sessions bearable.
Next, try a window fan. Almost every kitchen has a window, and you should put that to use. There are small window fans, usually used for bathrooms, that could be pressed into service. They are easy to mount, move a great deal of air, and are fairly easy to make light tight.
If you don't have a window, think about blowing that air into the rest of your apartment where there are windows! You can buy an inexpensive, hollow-core door, cut a hole in it, and mount your exhaust fan. If this sounds like a lot of effort, don't be afraid. The door and fan should cost only about $50-75 and if you have no tools, you probably have a friend who does.
Try a surgical-type mask. I have talked to people who have had success with this method. The problem is that the less expensive ones aren't very effective, and the more effective ones are expensive and bulky.
One other thing: Check with your doctor. You may have an allergy problem that is intensified by chemistry.
Q.Will you please give me an appraisal of my Kodak (still in box). It is called "Kodak Colorburst 100," appears to be about 10 years old and never has been used.
A.I can't appraise a camera by mail, or generally in person, for that matter. Most reputable camera stores, however, will be glad to discuss this sort of thing with you.
As to your Colorburst 100, I have one, too. It's the camera that Kodak put out that was involved in the antitrust suit with Polaroid. Kodak has offered a refund, but at this time the issue is tied up in litigation and nothing is being done. Hang on to that camera for a while.
Q.I have a Rollei strobe, model E-66. Could you tell me where I can buy a charger and a PC cord for it? The unit seems to be in good shape.
A.I remember that model, but my calls for information about it have not been very successful. I'm told the unit is about 10 years old. I suggest you check you own camera store regularly, and keep your eye on the magazine "Shutterbug," which is a goldmine for finding older equipment and repair services.
Q.Can you tell me where I can purchase a step-up ring (77mm to 82mm)?
A.Try the larger camera stores. This is not a stock item and it will probably have to be special ordered. It will cost about $15-$17.
On Sunday, November 15, the White House News Photographers' Association and the Smithsonian Institution will present their 11th annual High School Students Photo Seminar.
A panel of experienced professionals representing print and broadcast journalism will discuss and demonstrate techniques and special know-how developed over the years. A question-and-answer session will follow each of the lectures.
In addition to the good advice, there will be "goody" bags and door prizes.
The seminar will be held at the Carmichael Auditorium of the Museum of American History, 13th and Constitution NW, from noon to 5. Call 587-3247.
Send your photography questions to Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, DC 20071.