Q. My husband and I are departing soon for a motor trip around the Gulf of Mexico. We will spend some time in Florida and drive up and around the gulf and finally end up near New Orleans. And although the trip is part business, we want to make a "travelogue" of it.
We have a Pentax K-1000 with a 50mm lens, and a Pentax SF1-N with a 70-200mm zoom. We also have a Canon Sure-Shot automatic camera.
Can you give me any picture ideas or film recommendations? Also, do we have to worry about high humidity during the trip?
A. For me, the first rule, before any trip, is check out the equipment. Change the batteries in all your cameras, and be sure that you pack spares. If you have time, try a test roll in each camera.
Take all your cameras and plenty of film. You'll be using your SLRs for outdoor shots and the automatic for people and inside flash pictures.
If you're going to shoot for prints, use 400 ASA as a basic film. I would also take along some 100 ASA. Try the Fuji Reala or the Kodak Ektar 125. If you'd like to shoot slides, use the Fuji 50 or 100 ASA, the Kodak Ektachrome 100HC or the Agfachrome 200.
Take a tripod. If you don't have one, now is the time to invest. You can buy sturdy, very lightweight tripods for under $75.
Heat and humidity may be a problem to deal with. To combat the moisture, you can buy a container of Silica-gel. A fairly large container costs under $10, and many leading camera stores carry it. This is a drying material. It's the same stuff that is packaged in with new photographic and electronic equipment.
Keep this in your camera bag. As it absorbs moisture, it turns pink; place it in the sun (or an oven) and dry it out and it returns to its original blue color, ready for reuse.
Since you're driving, I suggest you keep your film and cameras in a plastic foam chest and out of the heat of the area.
As for what to shoot, you won't have a problem. You'll be traveling through a beautiful and historic section. Keep your camera going.
FEEDBACK: "I sympathize with the person whose interior shots suddenly went blank. I agree that this could be a faulty camera or underexposure. But a couple of years ago, I had a similar experience while shooting a wedding, and couldn't figure out the thin negatives and bluish haze. Then I remembered that the cigarette and cigar smoke was so bad it made my eyes water. That smoke acted like a blue veil in front of my lens."
THE NEATEST accessory of the summer, perhaps of the year is called Camerascope. With it you can view any subject as though it were the center of a kaleidoscope.
I've shot eight rolls of print film and three of slide film, experimented with filters and gotten a bigger charge out of each succeeding roll. The combination of Camerascope and special-effects filters was a real kick.
The Camerascope is an acrylic-coated tube, 6 1/2 inches long and 2 3/4 inches in diameter. The optical-quality mirrors in it reflect and re-reflect the subject of your picture until the final image recorded on film is a montage of triangular facets. Every subject, from macro close-ups to storm clouds shot through treetops, becomes kaleidoscopic.
Camerascope comes with a 58mm permanent mount and can be attached to any lens by means of an adaptor ring. Sizes range from 49mm to 62mm.
My Camerascope came with a fairly detailed set of comments and suggestions. Using them as a guide, I found that I could improvise and let my imagination wander in all directions.
Aperture plays an important role. The larger the aperture used, the more blended or "feathered" the edges of the facets will appear in the picture. Smaller apertures yield more defined edges. Using depth-of-field preview button helps in composition.
I had no trouble, however, shooting in general program mode. Aperture priority program worked a bit better than shutter priority.
Focal length of your lens also plays a role. This will determine the size and number of the facets which will appear on film. In my tests I used zoom lenses, and shot from macro to 210mm. The 35 to 70mm range was most pleasing to me. Macro closeups were great fun, and I found the smaller the focal length, the more images or facets appeared.
The Camerascope cost $66, which includes an adaptor ring and a velour carrying bag. Additional adaptor rings are $6.
It is manufactured only by Kaleidovisions, Inc., 10731 Manchaca Rd., Austin, TX 78748. Call 512/280-0120.
Write Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.