Thursday, September 16, 2010

Through the Viewfinder

A while back I tried out Through the Viewfinder (TTV) photography. Basically, you shoot with your DSLR through the viewfinder (hence the name) of an old Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) Camera. It sounds simple, but there are so many things to think about. Of course, being me, I tried to figure them all out while on a trip, so I looked like an incredible idiot. It was awesome. I even freaked out a dog I was trying to shoot. He hid from me.

Anyway, here are my tips and tricks.

1) The Rig. Most serious TTV-ers build complicated rigs to shut out the light between the two cameras. If it isn't totally black inside, the picture doesn't come out. They measure the exact distance that is needed for appropriate focus and use of a telephoto lens and build a stiff body that houses both cameras. I don't have the patience to build something like that, so I built the quick and dirty version. I didn't use a telephoto lens, just my regular lens, and I built a ghetto rig. Basically, I took one of those neoprene wine carriers, shoved my TLR down into the bottom, and cut a hole out for the top lens (the viewing lens). You don't need the lower lens, since you aren't actually taking a picture with that camera.

2) Focus. You use the focus ring on the TLR to actually focus the picture, then you focus your DSLR on the viewfinder. With the flexible rig above, you have some ability to move the cameras around for the proper focus and viewpoint. It can be frustrating, but you just have to try it out until you get the feel for it.

3) Shoot/edit. Shoot several of the same subject, since it is really hard to tell whether things have been coming out in focus, then crop out the black areas around the picture with photo-editing software. Share with flickr groups like this one.

Here are some of my attempts, shot in Silverton, Colorado. I love the off-focus, gritty look that the viewfinder gives the photos.

TTV - washing machine

TTV - Blue House


  1. TTV is a very cool, and very wacky photography method. Which fits my very cool, very wacky wife perfectly!

  2. P.S. I awarded you the Sunshine Award on my blog :)


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