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Leafing Down the Book Lane

January 25, 1987|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

Ever returned from a trip and found the pictures you shot disappointing? In many cases, it's not your camera expertise but the down-the-middle-tone print from a mechanical processor that blows your effort of trying to capture the dramatic shadow or light. Next time, get the film developed and then try your hand at making your own controlled print. It's a simple, fun experience that can be done with minimal investment. Tom Grimm, a free-lance writer, photography instructor at Cal State Long Beach and a respected authority on the subject, explains how, in easy-to-read text and illustrated examples in "The Basic Darkroom Book" (New American Library: $9.95).

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How about spending two or three weeks or even a summer working in the surroundings of a national park? Besides the beautiful environment, your lodgings and meals may be dirt cheap, or even free. You may find how to do it all in "National Parks Trade Journal." It explains how to take advantage of more than 30,000 jobs in more than 330 beautiful locations that could open a new full-time career. The guide has enough photos to project the lay of the land, and the text describes the myriad employment possibilities. For a copy, send $7.95 to National Parks Trade Journal, P.O. Box 2221, Wawona Station, Yosemite National Park, Calif. 95389 (Taverly-Church).

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Everyone agrees that planning and knowing what's ahead can make a motor outing more enjoyable, especially if you're in another country. Now, if you are heading south of the border, a copy of "Motoring Mexico--The Best of Mexico's Tours" by Joanne Harrier Barker and Jack Stone should ensure a wonderful trip. The guide can be described as a multi-star reference with its many detailed maps, mileage points, travel time and availabilities at stopovers (Doubleday: $12.95).

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Slightly verbose but possibly more detailed than similar guides, the Collins Guide to "Cathedrals, Abbeys and Priories of England and Wales" by Henry Thorold presents a concise and comprehensive reference that should please the scholar, historian or visitor who also can take advantage of its textbook quality and excellent photography (Salem House: $24.95).

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Frommer's 1987-88 editions available are "Spain & Morocco on $40 a Day" by Darwin Porter and "Mexico on $20 a Day" by Tom Brosnahan ($10.95 each). Also the "Dollarwise Guides" to "England & Scotland" by Darwin Porter and "Texas" by Rena Bulkin ($11.95 each). Two others are "Skiing Europe" by Catherine and Peter Foreht ($12.95) and "Cancun, Cozumel & the Yucatan" by Tom Brosnahan ($5.95).

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When visiting an area, most travelers enjoy viewing the memorabilia. If interested in the land of bagpipes and kilts, "Scottish Museums & Galleries Guide" reveals implements, handcrafts, archeology and much more within many past time frames. For a look-see before you leave, this guide could be valuable (Salem House: $8.95).

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Many seasoned travelers depend upon Fielding's for knowledgeable information. First-timers also should find these guides worthwhile: "Bermudas and the Bahamas" ($7.95) by Rachel and Walter Christmas; "Discover Europe Off the Beaten Track" ($12.95) by Margaret Zellers and "Far East" ($14.95) by Antoinette DeLand.

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"Insight Guides--Australia" is a well-balanced combination of past and present in a mix of excellent color photos and well-defined text. The prospective visitor or armchair traveler should find it worth the $16.95 tab (Prentice Hall).

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"The South American Handbook" fully deserves the description of the "definitive travel authority on South and Central America and the Caribbean." It furnishes a vast amount of detailed information including important listings, topics, politics, recent history, crime and health information and much more. The tab is $26.95 and worth it if you're heading in that direction (Rand McNally).

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It's a pleasure to thumb the well-printed pages of exceptional B&B guides with striking color photos and good text. You'll find these above average: "The West Coast--California, Oregon and Washington" by Courtia Worth and Terry Berger, or "The East Coast--New England and the Mid-Atlantic" by Robert Gardner, Naomi Black and Terry Berger. Each lists 100 establishments obviously selected for their ambiance, comfort and pleasing location. Rates, directions, data and any specialties of the house are well detailed (Prentice Hall: $12.95 each).

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The "Let's Go Guides" available for 1987 include "Mexico," "France," "California & Pacific Northwest," "Britain & Ireland," "Spain," Portugal & Morocco," "Israel & Egypt," "Greece" and "Italy" at $9.95 each. "Europe" and "USA" are $10.95 each. A crew of Harvard students are selected annually to make firsthand observations that one source describes as "a sheer wealth of information" (St. Martins).

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