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the tao of ttv

November 13, 2009

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The first time I saw Through the Viewfinder (TtV) photography was on Alicia Bock’s blog and I’m pretty sure I must have thought something along the lines of holy shit, what is that and how do I do it?, because before I knew it, I was on eBay purchasing a Kodak Duaflex vintage camera.

TtV is “a form of photography that involves using one camera (digital) to take a picture via another camera’s viewfinder (twin lens reflex). The result is a slightly distorted, vignetted, dusty, square image.”

My Duaflex, I am ashamed to admit, sat on a shelf collecting dust for many months along with all the other grand plans I ever had.  I then packed it up and it stayed in a box for a while as I transitioned from Nova Scotia to Montreal.  It was eventually removed from the box and put on a new shelf where it could be gazed upon with a stare that said what am I ever going to do with you? The Duaflex was starting to feel a little dejected as Duaflexes are want to do.  It became the Duaflex with a complex.

And then, finally, Squam came around and among the many workshops being offered was a TtV class with the marvelous Andrea Jenkins, aka Miss Hula Seventy.  I took one look at the Duaflex and said Baby, we’re going to Squam.

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I don’t know how many of you have been lucky enough to meet Hula but I have to tell you… she is just as lovely in person as she is on her blog.  Actually, even lovelier because you get to experience first hand her exuberance, her charm and her humor.  And to top it all off with a pretty little cherry, she is an amazing, inspiring photographer.  She takes the type of photos that feel like the summer of 1975.  And really, is there anything better than the summer of 1975?  I don’t think so.  I just love the woman.  I can’t say it enough.

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Her workshop was phenomenal.  We spent the morning building our contraptions to specific measures for the type of DSLR and TLR we each had; an endeavor that involved complex mathematics and quantum physics.  We were like kids waiting for recess… can’t we just go out and play?  Luckily, Hula came equipped with colorful scissors and rulers and I was surrounded by such a great group of women, that it felt more like a morning of coffee and crafting than the thing you do to get to the thing you really want to do (the actual taking of the photos).

We then spent the entire afternoon in the sun, testing our contraptions and snapping away.  Andrea had brought props.  She brought PROPS, people.  Colorful balloons and striped straws and pink super balls and fake mustaches and umbrellas.  It was TtV heaven.

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TtV gives me an entirely new perspective as it literally turns my world backwards (everything is flipped right to left), which makes it more challenging to get my composition right.  Also, the convex lens makes me feel like I am looking through a bubble into a romanticized dreamy world.  Not only is TtV an adventure in photography, it is a celebration of imperfection as it comes with the full package of vintage qualities:  dirt, dust, scratches, ghosting and vignetting included (though I often remove the vignette in Photoshop for a different look).

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Also, it should be noted that walking around the city with a vintage camera and a light-blocking cardboard contraption that looks like a ghost capturing device, gets you about as much attention from creatives and geeks as men with puppies garner from us ladies.  It is a curiosity, so don’t be surprised if people stop you on the road to ask you what you’re doing.

Needless to say, now that I have my contraption, there aren’t nearly as many dust bunnies gathering around ye olde Duaflex these days. If you have one of your own, sitting on the shelf, sighing long sad sighs, grab yourself a can of Pringles or a box of cereal, block that light and give TtV a chance.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2009 4:58 am

    divine images, well done!

  2. November 14, 2009 6:19 am

    i didnt know about this!
    thank you so much for sharing.
    you have so many great photos in your blog!

  3. Alison permalink
    November 14, 2009 10:24 am

    WWWOOOOOWWWW Love em all but that dinosaur is just so coooool

  4. November 15, 2009 1:04 am

    It hadn’t occured to me to use an old pringle tube for my daulflex. Like yours, it’s been sitting on the bookshelf for months and months. I love your images!

  5. November 15, 2009 3:11 pm

    Wow. I am new here, and what a post to land on. Amazing images.

  6. Christina permalink
    November 15, 2009 4:44 pm

    Is that your purple dress? It’s beautiful!

  7. November 16, 2009 2:36 pm

    and your contraption looks so amazing … mine is all mangly but it doesn’t stop me from trying 😉 tee hee

    love these!! xo

  8. November 16, 2009 3:59 pm

    I have a ttv and my attempt to make a box for it didn’t work too well – who knew there was a science to the length of them!

  9. November 16, 2009 6:07 pm

    Lovely pictures, lovely You.

  10. November 17, 2009 11:10 am

    I’ve fallen deeply and madly in love with TtV recently, and your pictures are so inspiring. That workshop made me drool with covetousness – sounds amazing! My contraption is simply a rolled-up bit of posterboard… I really must work on perfecting it.

    Really great post, and thanks for the linkage — off to check out each one!

  11. November 20, 2009 12:48 pm

    that TtV looks addicting! and i am no photographer, but dang those are some pretty photos…love the magic in them…

  12. November 20, 2009 6:30 pm

    so lovely, dear one. especially that flower. and you.

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