Monday, 29 November 2010

Through the Viewfinder on Flickr

I am an active and avid member of the Flickr group Through the Viewfinder and I visit daily. It is a great community for help and support and everyone is so warm and welcoming. They have started doing a month long challenge and I was lucky enough to win this month. Here are my entries:



I'll be picking the themes for next month so I'll post here when they're up.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


I live in Leeds, UK and went for a brief photo walk on my lunch the other day. I shot in Raw and because the light was failing i had to push the ISO up quite high. I was looking for abstracts and colours and shapes and came out with a few things I liked. I did quite a bit of post processing on these images as I was looking for colour to cheer up these cold miserable days...

Thursday, 25 November 2010


The Seagull 4A is the newest in my collection and also the hardest to use. You have to focus the viewing screen as well as your own camera which is quite fiddly and time consuming. I'll post some results as soon as I can!

All the other cameras have a no focusing capability so it is down to you and your camera.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


I am hoping that this guide - along with all the others out there in internet world will shed light on what has become one of my most favourite styles of photography. I'm no expert, I have just worked using trial and error, and also by talking to the great and creative people over at the Through The Viewfinder Flickr group.

Through the Viewfinder photography is exactly as it sounds. Taking photos through the viewfinder of another camera. Typically the ‘other’ camera is a Twin Lens Reflex such as a Kodak Duaflex or an Argus 75. These cameras have a ‘bubble’ glass or plastic viewfinder which projects a bright image to photograph. Sometimes there is a ghosting or duplication of the image due to the thickness of the glass and the refraction of the light through the bubble.

Dirt or no dirt - that is the question.
The majority of the cameras you can get for TTV nowadays are from eBay, yard sales, etsy or grandmas attic. They are dusty, dirty and have messy viewfinders. There will always be debates on whether to clean out the glass and the mirror underneath or whether to leave them be and get the dirt in the photo to add a bit more character. I personally like the dirt, however I have 1 ‘clean’ camera that I keep as an alternative just in case.

Russ Morris has written a tutorial on how to clean one of the most popular TTV cameras used, a Kodak Duaflex.

The trick in this photographic technique is to photo the image through the glass not the glass itself. This requires a few different things:
  • A lens capable of close up focussing or close up filters attached to the end of the lens.
  • A ‘Contraption’ to block out the light between the end of the lens on your main camera or ‘Top camera’ and the viewing lens of the TLR or ‘Bottom camera’.
  • Patience

I personally use a Nikon D300 camera as my top camera and a Sigma 28-80mm super zoom which locks to Macro at 80mm to enable close up photography. This means that most of my contraptions are about 12 inches long (between the end of my lens and the top of the viewing lens).

The contraptions are made of many things depending on the shape of the camera and the distance I need between the lenses. I have some made of Pringles cans, others are made of foam core (found in craft shops), other people just use black card, socks or even lego! As long as the light is blocked out and you can fill most of your Top camera viewfinder with the bottom camera image and focus then that’s all you need.
A good place to look for ideas on contraptions is at the Through the viewfinder flickr group found here.There are many many different styles, sizes, techniques and things used to make them, there should be plenty of inspiration here for you.

When building a contraption there are many different ways to do it. This is my way:
  1. Lay both your cameras down on a table and look through your Top cameras viewfinder until it is as full as you can make it with the image of the bottom camera.
  2.  Make sure that you can focus through the glass and onto the image that you want to photo. This will take time for you to adjust the distance between the two cameras and make sure that the image is big enough and that you can focus easily.
  3. Measure the distance between and build a contraption to fit. The contraption can totally enclose the camera or just fit the gap and be secured on using tape or string or anything else that you can find that suits your needs.
  4. Once it’s all together make sure everything is lined up so you don’t get any black areas on your photos which usually means that the alignment is out.
I now shoot all my images in RAW however the majority of my gallery is from Jpeg only images. I won’t go on about what type you should do as it is personal preference but I will let you in on my settings in camera.

I usually shoot in Aperture priority mode and I have my aperture set as far open as it will go (3.5 on my lens). See here and here for further discussion on aperture and the effects it has on the image. I let the camera work out the rest (partly I’m lazy and partly I’m holding two cameras and a Pringles tube in the middle of a busy street and don’t want to attract more attention to myself working out shutter speed etc). I never use auto ISO as I want to avoid too much noise in the camera so I always set it between 200 and 400 depending on the weather/where I’m taking photos. On really gloomy days I push it up to 800.
When editing the images the first decision to be made is whether to keep the black frame around the edge of the photo. I always keep it as I think it is what defines a TTV image.

Again I’m not going to tell you how to edit your images as it is another personal thing, but I would recommend some of the following Photoshop actions to help give your images the POP! that they may need

The best thing about TTV is that it is open to interpretation. You can chose your style, your technique, how you edit your photos and how you display them. It can be a truly individual and fun experience to get into and there is a big community of support out there if you get stuck or need some advice or just want to show off your results.