Q. Over the Memorial Day holiday, I put a fresh roll of Fuji HG 400 film in my camera, a Fuji Discovery 800.
I didn't finish shooting up the entire roll, so I left it in the car. I found it last week, had it developed, but the film came back with funny-looking streaks and smears on it. There was lots of red haze stuff on most of the pictures. Should I blame this on the film or camera?
A. I'm really surprised your photo finisher didn't say something to you personally or give you a note or form letter in your picture envelope. What you have is neither a camera nor a film problem; your problem is heat.
Leaving your camera in the car is dangerous. You'd be amazed at how many glove boxes are rifled in shopping malls each day. But more important, film is not designed to withstand the blistering heat of a closed car in summer. I have measured temperatures up to 150 degrees in my car; it doesn't take much of that to wreck your film. You should never leave flim in a closed car.
My rule of thumb is that if I am uncomfortable with the temperature inside my car, I assume that my film is uncomfortable, too.
For long motor trips, even with my air conditioner running, I like to store loaded cameras and spare film in a cooler, usually with an ice-substitute pack in it.
Q. I have moved from being a sometime freelance writer to suporting myself with regular, special writing assignments. It's become necessary to take my own pictures in both black and white and color. I have tried to use my late husband's Canon A-1, but it is bogging me down.
Do you have any tips on equipment and shooting? Most of my current assignments are concerned with people, places and things of the financial world.
A. Put away the A-1 for a while and get yourself one of the modern, compact point-and-shoot zooms. These are fully automatic and easy to use. Major camera stores carry a variety of these cameras for you to look at; they will help you with your final purchase decision.
Get a zoom-lens camera; they are the most versatile. Also, be sure that your camera has at least three flash modes: flash as needed, flash off and outdoor fill flash. These features will often get you out of trouble.
The camera you buy should also have a self-timer, not necessarily to take your own picture, but to use for shooting from odd angles.
As for shooting tips, remember, you have the advantage of knowing what you want to write, so you will know what situations need illustration. Don't be afraid to overshoot a little -- film isn't that expensive.
For both color and black and white I would advise staying with ASA 400 film. This is especially important if you have to shoot both. You'll be handling your camera the same way all the time.
One other thing. Be sure that you understand the production needs of the publication you're working for. Many need color transparencies rather than prints.
Q. Can you furnish any information about wireless remote systems for cameras? I have been told that there is a new system that is powered by radio frequencies. Is this true?
A. Yes, it's true and I have tried it. It's made by Ricoh, costs less than $30 and works with three or four of their current cameras.
The advantage of a radio frequency-controlled remote is that it need not have a line of sight as is needed with infrared remotes. It can go around corners and even through some walls.
I used mine to take bird pictures. I was able to set the camera up close to the bird feeder, and fire from a distance. I used binoculars to watch the birds feeding and shot when I saw a picture I wanted. I HAVE been testing a new, valuable piece of equipment from Polaroid called the Close-up Stand. Designed for use with the Polaroid Spectra camera, this outfit produces close-up pictures of small objects and printed matter at a 1:1 scale (actual size).
The Close-up Stand is easy to use. The Spectra camera fits into the top of the plastic stand pointing down, the object to be photographed is properly framed and the picture snapped.
I found lots of uses for this tough, lightweight stand. After a talk with my insurance agent, I zipped around making identification pictures of various household items. It's ideal for cataloguing such things as jewelry, coins and other collectibles.
I used it to copy important paragraphs from both an almanac and an atlas while working on a research project. And, while the Close-up Stand is not recommended for copying photos, I tried some anyway. They were fine -- a little blue -- but great for identification.
My most ambitious test was in making a record of camera and lens serial numbers. The instructions say that any object up to one-half inch tall can be photographed. I feel this is conservative. After a couple of experimental shots, I was able to produce very good shots of the numbers, and enough of the surrounding camera for positive identification.
The stand is not expensive. Suggested manufacturer's list price is $39.99; in stores it'll be somewhat less. It's only 10 inches tall and weighs less than a pound. Polaroid film is about $1 a shot, and well worth it for this kind of usage.
Write Carl Kramer, c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.