Thursday, September 4, 2008

The World Through a Viewfinder

There are times I wish I still worked in film. My college courses in B&W photography were some of my favorites and I so enjoyed having my own darkroom. That being said, I don’t miss spending gobs of money on film, paper, chemicals, and so on. I was slow to open to the world of digital photography—always being rather skeptical of new technology—but I am a happy convert now.

{they make me happy}
Film photography has such a classic feel to it, especially B&W, Polaroid, Holga, and pinhole photography. I appreciate the authenticity and timelessness. Discovering TtV (through-the-viewfinder) photography opened the door to a digital medium that offers a look pleasantly reminiscent of an earlier time, but without the assistance of Photoshop. While “authenticity” is certainly debatable here, the fact that the vintage-feel of the photographs comes from a real camera and not a digital filter or texture layer makes it more appealing to me.

So how does this work? Well, Russ Morris is the guy you need to visit for a detailed tutorial; however, the basics include an old viewfinder camera, a digital camera, and a tunnel-like contraption that blocks out light while you take a picture of the viewfinder.

Here’s what my cardboard contraption looks like. It’s based on a pattern that Russ offers on his website.

My TtV camera of choice is a Kodak Duaflex, but there are Argus and Brownie cameras out there that will work for this technique as well. My Duaflex has a broken shutter (purchased for $5 at Blue Moon Camera), but it doesn’t matter since I’m not loading it with film.

{lilac breezes}
Russ offers instructions on how to clean the dust out of your old camera, but frankly I wanted one that was speckled and a bit dirty. For me, dust = character.

I have to admit that I look a little ridiculous walking around my neighborhood with this contraption ‘round my neck, but the results sure are fun.

For more TtV photos, I suggest visiting this group on flickr.