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DIY How To: Through the Viewfinder Photography

This is a ‘how to’ do the through the viewfinder or ttv technique written for all of you that have expressed interest recently. It is by no means a rule book because I think each person would approach it differently but this is how I manage it..and remember with ttv really there ARE NO RULES :) It will require you to use that creative imagination but this is honestly half the fun of it!!

I should give you some background info firstly, it is rumored to have first been thought of by Mr E on Flickr back in 2005 but there are is no hard proof of this just speculation on my behalf. TTV is still really huge on flickr with hundreds of groups dedicated to the different styles and subjects of ttv eg nature, black&white, manipulated, ferriswheels, self-portraits, etc etc

So firstly ..what you are going to need, the essentials;
1- a twin reflex camera eg. Kodak Duaflex, Argus75, or any other camera that has a large viewfinder. NB Most can be picked up from flea markets or ebay for as little as $5. Most take 620 film that is no longer made/available so this is why they are so cheap plus they are a dime a dozen as they were mass produced in the 1950s & 60’s.
2- a digital camera with a pretty good macro so you are able to zoom in nice and close to the viewfinder
3- a tripod certainly helps but isn’t essential
4- something to block out excess light from above that shines onto your viewfinder glass, this can be a specially made box, a round piece of cardboard, or anything else that will do the job that you have laying about.
5- a good sense of humor and a healthy dose of patience!!

Here’s some of my twin reflex kids

This is the argoflex 75 and the kodak duaflex

This is an ansco and not my gun shells there ..its goose shooting season here and I have included them for size comparison. I wouldn’t recommend the ansco to start with as its really fiddley!!

This is looking down at the ansco’s viewfinder.

This is zooming in as tight as possible with my macro lens.

This is the image that has been cropped and is now ready for what ever colour adjustments or processing you wish to do.

OK so this isn’t my image of choice here but you get the general idea..

This is a random piece of cardboard tube that I now use to block out excess light reflecting on the viewfinder glass.

Here is the side view..if you insist on being really anal about it you get some ideas for building the exact fit to your camera from flickr here

If you would like a really indepth tutorial I can recommend Russ Morris’s here

A few other points I’d like to add….some may wonder why go to all this trouble when you can do all of this with photoshop (fake ttvs) well my answer to that is I really like being able to see what image I want to create in the field and quite frankly it is so much more fun and creative to be actually ‘out there’ doing it!

Secondly I don’t think all images or concepts are suited to the ttv style so this will be a matter of trial and error to see what fits for you.

Lastly -the ttv style is all about embracing age and the antique-look of an image so think carefully about your post processing. Alot of ttv actually looks wonderful all on its own and I think many would be shocked at how little I actually do to some ttvs. Please use this link if you wish to find out more about the different processes and for free photoshop downloads here
that help achieve the vintage, grungey look. A great one to start with is urban acid :)

Here’s a few more …

An urban acid ttv

There you go…I think thats it?? Let me know if you need to know more or perhaps I’ve left something out…and don’t forget there is a Through the Viewfinder
group for ‘real’ ttvs when you are all ready to go!!

Cheers Everyone!! Jules :)


  • midzing
    midzingover 6 years ago

    thanks for the information Jules,,, i must try this one day,,,

  • Hey midzing! no worries :) its a lotta fun!!

    – Jules Campbell

  • Andrea Barnett
    Andrea Barnettover 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’ve been looking into this technique and I can’t wait to try it!!

  • Cheers ASG good luck with it!!

    – Jules Campbell

  • minau
    minauover 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tutorial Jules :) i really want to try this

  • Cool as Dani I can’t wait to see your ttvs!!

    – Jules Campbell

  • InnerNortherns
    InnerNorthernsover 6 years ago

    what a cool thing to do
    need to go op.shopping for a medium 120 camera
    will try it

  • Have you got your medium format camera yet?

    – Jules Campbell

  • Faith Hunter
    Faith Hunterover 6 years ago

    Thanks Jules. I’ve been flirting with the idea of trying these for a while but you’ve given me the extra kick I needed. I have just had some ideas about this and my laneways!

  • Phineous "Flash"   Cassidy
    Phineous "Flas...over 6 years ago

    great idea mate ive been looking at buying one of these cameras for experimenting and this would just ad to the fun creativity but is it possible to find film still for using it ?

  • I am pretty sure 620 isn’t available anywhere and some even try to adapt 120 film for them but this is really fiddley and time consuming I’m sure. You could pick up an old medium format camera such as a Yashica which takes 120 film or you could get yourself a ‘toy camera’ such as a Holga or Diana they take 120 and have a lovely ‘old world’ feel about them and they are cheap. I have a Holga and its alot of fun but haven’t used it purely because of film & processing costs. I think a Holga will set you back about $100 AUD? Hope this helps! Cheers Jules

    – Jules Campbell

  • InnerNortherns
    InnerNorthernsover 6 years ago

    found a yachica but it was shagged as the viewing mirror had moved 45 degrees and it was to pricey ..

  • Dang what a bummer ..mind you the yashica has a smokey viewfinder anyway (I’ve got one) so probably a good thing! Was it a yashica 635?

    – Jules Campbell

  • Phineous "Flash"   Cassidy
    Phineous "Flas...over 6 years ago

    thx Jules =]

  • InnerNortherns
    InnerNorthernsover 6 years ago

    yep a 635 yashica,,but i think it has been dropped

  • Cathleen Tarawhiti
    Cathleen Taraw...over 6 years ago

    Thanks Jules, this is going to be fun to play with.

  • No probs Cathleen-looking forward to seeing what you come up with :)

    – Jules Campbell