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Beginner Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.

Please tell me about the storage of film in a refrigerator or freezer. I have been told two different stories. Is it OK to store film in a freezer or should I keep it in the frig. I shoot Fuji film Velvia and Provia mostly, really need help on this.


Many professional films require refrigeration to keep the emulsion fresh. Consumer films and some pro films do not require refrigeration. You can refrigerate these films when they reach their expiration date to help prolong their freshness. Freezing film can be done for films that are out of date and need to be stored for an extended period of time. If you do freeze film, put it in the refrigerator several days before you will need it, then remove it from the refrigerator the day before you're going to shoot. This will ensure the emulsion does not thaw too rapidly and damage the surface. If you shoot your film before it expires, you do not need to freeze it.

I have a Minolta 800si Dynax and I have been using it for the last year. I have recently bought a 70-300mm AF Minolta lens (filter diameter 55mm) as an accessory to my camera. Now I have two lenses with a filter diameter of 62mm and other with 55mm. My question is if I purchase a step up or step down ring to attach my filters, will this effect the final picture. Do you recommend step up or step down. It would be a great help, if you can advise me on this. Looking forward to your mail.


Using stepping filters is a great way to save money on filters (especially the expensive ones). The thing to worry about is putting a much smaller filter on a larger lens. This can lead to vignetting or the cutting off of the corners of your images. Be especially careful putting a smaller filter on a wide angle lens that uses a larger filter. This will guarantee your shot to be vignetted. Your best bet, since you already have filters for your 62mm lenses is to use a 55mm to 63mm step ring on your new lens. This allows you to use all of your existing filters on all of your lenses with no chance of vignetting.

I am shooting a wedding at the end of March. I have a Minolta STsi Maxum with an AF28-80zoom. The wedding will be inside low light and candlelight. What would be the best film 400 or 800? I don't want to use a flash during the ceremony. They also want some black and white pictures taken. Is the Kodak film at Wallgreens OK to use? I am also thinking of buying a flash. Again I need your recommendation. What kind of filter would you use if any? Thinking also of getting a star filter what do you think? Help me. Trying to do the best I can. Any other suggestions on shooting weddings would be greatly appreciated. Are there any web sights that could help me?

Ken Thomas

Shooting in the low light conditions of a candlelight ceremony, I would recommend using an 800 speed film. I have seen nice results in similar situations using Fuji Press 800. For the black and white shots, if you want to continue with the 800 speed, use either Kodak TMax 400 or Fuji Neopan 400 and rate them at 800. You will need to have these films specially processed (pushed) to compensate for the adjusted speed. Or use the color film and have them printed in black and white (most specialty labs can handle this for you).

A star filter is a good filter for a candle light ceremony. Just be sure not to use it too much. It should be used sparingly. Another filter I recommend would be a Soft-net filter from Tiffen. These filters have a piece of net material stretched between two pieces of glass. It softens imperfections in the skin without making the shot look out of focus.

Check out a book titled; "Professional Techniques for the Wedding Photographer : A Complete Guide to Lighting, Posing and Taking Photographs That Sell" by George Schaub, Kenneth Sklute (Photographer); Paperback - 144 pages Revised edition (June 2001) Watson-Guptill Pubns; ISBN: 0817456023. This book is available at

What are the implications of your digital and 35mm AND Camcorder cameras going through the X-ray machines in airports, and what about film and batteries? Should these be OUT of the cameras?

Aleta Beane

The cameras themselves will not be bothered by airport X-rays. You do want to have good batteries handy because you may be asked to turn the equipment on to prove it's a working camera. As far as your 35mm camera, be sure there's no film in the camera when going through security as they may ask you to open the back of the camera.

X-rays will not damage video tape or digital media cards. However some types of film need to be protected from the X-rays. Do not pack film in your checked baggage. For more information on film and airport x-ray, go to for a Technical Information Bulletin from Kodak. Also Jim McGee's most recent article on traveling after 9-11 has some good information on x-rays and your film.

Since I learned to shoot, I've got some rules of photography and so squeeze my camera to make a composition before taking a photo. My question is I bought a polarizer but the sky I took not so blue as I wanted. Should I give more light or less when a camera with a polarizer?

Thank you,

When using a polarizer, you need to make sure you are rotating the outer ring until you see the desired effect. If you are seeing the desired effect through the lens, and the sky is turning out too light, you may need to check that your lab has correctly printed the image (Is everything else too light?). The amount of polarization you see in the sky is also determined by your angle to the sun.

As far as needing too add or reduce the amount of light, when using a polarizer you need to add to your exposure if you're using a hand held meter. If you are using the in-camera meter, it will automatically compensate for the amount of light loss.

I have been taking photographs with my Canon EOS 300. I have used both print and slide films. The difference is clear. The slides are much more sharp than the prints. But I want to know whether the enlargements (e.g 10x12 inches) made from slides will be as good as the slides and will they be worth all the extra cost?


You can get clear enlargements from slides but you want to be sure to use a good lab. Many specialty stores have new digital printers that do a great job printing from slides or they can send the slides out to a custom lab for hand printing. Either of these should give you the quality you are looking for.

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