Q.

Can you give me any advice about taking pictures at Thanksgiving? My in-laws and my brother-in-law and family will be at our place. Since we'll be sharing the cooking duties, I hope that this year I'll have some time to do other things.

A.

You'll have the opportunity to make a great set of pictures. Make some shots of people bringing in the food they cooked; pose them as the table is set with that food.

Be sure to take a shot of all the cooks together.

Involve the kids. Many like to help, many like to loaf around the TV. If the weather is good and the kids are outside, be sure to take pictures of them running wild.

Shoot lots of candids in all the rooms, but be sure that you take plenty of formal, posed pictures.

Shots of the loaded table are good; the people around the table, especially the old and very young, just at the start of dinner, are great.

Don't neglect yourself. Pass your camera around so that you can be in some pictures, too.

After dinner, get that camera busy again. Whatever the family activity, take pictures of it. If that's just a group of people sitting around feeling stuffed, that's okay.

One other thing: Both at dinner and after, try for something special and different -- like some hands pictures. Shoot hands folded in prayer, hands battling a drumstick, or hands folded in satisfaction. There probably will be the opportunity to take something of the whole group holding hands. Look for contrast in hands, old and young, girl and boy.

And, when it's all over, have an extra set of prints made to send to family members who couldn't be there. They'll love sharing your experiences.

Q.

I am an electrician who sometimes needs to document what he finds on a consulting or troubleshooting job. I have been using an inexpensive autofocus 35mm with built-in flash, with ASA 400 T-Max film, and it does not suit my purposes. While I don't have the room or the dedication to carry a tripod, or the guts to risk a $400 outfit in my truck, I need to get something for closeups because a lot of what I try to record is less than an inch in size and almost always under a foot in diameter. Often I cannot physically get farther away from it than a couple of feet.

Also, am I better off with T-Max than with color film? I really need to get as much definition as possible.

A.

I'm not surprised that your autofocus camera isn't doing the job for you. Most of them won't focus below about three feet.

There are a couple of ways for you to go. People in the construction business I talked to use the Polaroids. Some bought the Spectra, but most use the 660 model.

The 660 is somewhat less expensive, (about $90) and focuses to down to two feet. With a focal length of about 100mm, you'll be amazed at how good the coverage is.

The added advantage is, of course, that you can see what you have immediately, and in color. The cost is about a dollar a shot, and the film is very fast. There will be times when you won't need flash at all.

The best way, however, is with a single-lens reflex and a macro capable lens. You could then fill the frame with something only an inch tall or shoot the entire area. You could have a small flash available for those extra-dark places. The new superfast color films are great, and if you don't need big enlargements, would work well without flash.

By all means switch to color. The added dimension will be of great value.

Q.

The point-and-shoot compact I bought for my wife is okay and takes good pictures. My question is, with all film being DX coded for automatic setting, how can you override that setting? On my Canon AE-Program I can "cheat" on the ASA and do some fancy underexposure.

A.

To my knowledge, none of the compacts have an override of the DX system. And since all film except that which is bulk loaded is now DX coded, there is not much that can be done.

These cameras are designed to be simple and do most of the technical work for you. To get so technical that you could override the DX would make them harder to use and defeat their purpose.

Here's some feedback from a friend in Manassas:

I like your ideas about shooting the fall leaves, but didn't think you went far enough. My suggestion is: Don't quit shooting just because many or all of the leaves have fallen.

I discovered that there were lots of pictures to be taken with the leaves on the ground. Last weekend I made some shots of the piles of leaves at the curb, all neatly waiting for the huge vacuum truck to gather them in.

Before that I took some pictures of my neighbor, who is in his 80s, raking leaves with his 7-year-old grandson.

Another picture I was pleased with was one made early in the morning of the sun filtering through the few remaining leaves on trees and lighting the red and yellow leaves on the street.

I even took pictures of bunches of leaves that had swirled around my front door and had almost buried my doormat. All very enjoyable.

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