Q. Since infrared film must be loaded, unloaded and processed in total darkness, is it possible to use this film in some of the newer cameras (such as the Canon T-90 or the Pentax SF1), which have windows on the back through which you can see the film cartridge? Can the infrared be exposed through that window?
A. Those identity windows are part of the DX system of automatic film speed settings. They have been on most cameras made in the last three years.
I spoke to my retailer, several photofinishers, two camera manufacturers and experts at Kodak. No one has experienced any exposure problems.
I have not shot infrared film with a windowed camera, but I have used film up to ISO 3200 with no problems. The camera folks seem very satisfied with their baffling system and foam rubber seals around the cartridges. Kodak experts said that they have not had a single complaint. Let's both go ahead and shoot some infrared and compare notes afterward.
Q. My wife and I bought a new Minolta 700-X camera outfit. We had our first roll of film developed and the negatives were returned blank (clear). What we would like to know is how to determine the reason for this or who is at fault.
A. I'm afraid the fault is yours. I hope by now you have taken the camera back to the store where it was purchased and asked for some help.
Your description of the problem suggests that the film never went through the camera -- that it wasn't properly affixed to the takeup spool. At the top right of the camera you should have a small rectangular window to monitor film movement. If the film is winding correctly, you will see a red line. No red line, no film movement.
I also urge you to study your owner's manual carefully.
Q. For nearly a year I have been taking early morning walks. When I started, my walk was all in daylight, but during the winter, much has been in darkness. Now, by the time I've finished my exercise, dawn has come.
I was never aware that the sky over Northern Virginia could be so beautiful. The question is, how do I take pictures of this? Is the best bet to head for the mountains?
A. You're right! Winter sunrise in our area is spectacular. The colors, while vibrant, have a coolness no other season can offer. The pinks and oranges are frequently laced with grays that enhance the panorama. The problem, of course is the weather: We don't have that many clear winter sunrises.
And, while a photography trip to the mountains is always fun, it's not necessary in this case.
Be prepared to shoot before sunrise; a flashlight will come in handy for preparation. I have found ISO 200 film most to my liking. Use a tripod if possible and be sure your camera is set to manual. As dawn breaks, take a reference meter reading. Just remember that as the sun rises, the light increases very rapidly. You'll have to shoot lots, and bracket your exposures every time.
One other thing: Pointing your camera at the sky and blasting away is not the idea. Find a special tree, building or perhaps a church steeple that can be framed in the foreground. Don't expose for the foreground object, let it frame the sky.
If your camera is one of the automatic compacts, don't be deterred. Set up and shoot the same way; chances are the camera will give you something to appreciate.
Once you have located a good spot, keep it in mind; it will serve as a great place to take summer sunrises, too.
The NIH Camera Club is sponsoring its third annual Nature Photography Workshop, April 29 to May 1, at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center near Front Royal.
The workshop will provide a chance to take pictures of wild animals in their natural habitat inside the Wildlife Conservation and Research Center near Front Royal.
This will be during the height of the apple blossom and dogwood season, alone reason enough to make the trip.
The weekend, including accommodations and meals, will cost $190. The group will be limited to 30. Call John Boretos at 496-5771 or 460-8448 for registration information.
On Tuesday, February 23, the Northern Virginia Photographic Society will hold a double program: Jim Solo, Dave Carter and Gary Silverstein will discuss "The Techniques of Night Photography," to be followed by a presentation by Dave Carter, "Photographing People."
Place: Washington Gas Light Co., 6801 Industrial Road, Springfield, at 7:45 p.m. For more information call Betty Labadie, 620-3386 or 463-2640.
Write to Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, DC 20071.