TTV: Through the Viewfinder

“TTV #1”

What is TTV: Through the Viewfinder?

Well, it’s pretty much what it says. It’s a technique using two cameras, an old box camera and the camera you actually take pictures with, in which you take a picture of what you see through the other camera’s viewfinder. Make sense?

“Fall at Long Lake”

What is the point you ask?

For me, I love the aged retro look you get with TTV. Yeah, you can make an image look aged or antiqued using textures and filter in Photoshop, but it’s just not the same. Most of the old box cameras are dirty, covered in dust, maybe some scratches, all of which add to the character of the image. (The dirtier the better I say!) Not to mention the challenge of balancing 2 cameras, and the whole flip flop issue. Most box camera’s used have a top viewfinder, that uses mirrors, so you have to keep your good camera at a 90 degree angle to what you want to photograph. Oh, and everything is reversed. Do you know how confusing that can get, you keep turning the direction you need to to center the image, yet in the viewfinder it’s going the other way?!?

So what do you need to get started?

First off, you need a camera to actually take the picture. I’ll assume if you are reading this, you already have one of those ūüôā And to get a nice close-up shot of the viewfinder, you will need a macro lens, or zoom filters.¬† You will need to be able to take a picture a few inches away from the object. If your camera has a macro setting that you are happy with, then by all means, just use that! Besides that, you will need some sort of old camera with a large viewfinder, and then something to block out the light between the 2 cameras.

After you have what you need, honestly, all you do is take a picture of the viewfinder.

Obviously the image above doesn’t have the light blocked out between the two cameras. I just wanted to show you the viewfinder.

My set up:

I have my Canon Rebel XTi for my primary camera (we’ll call this camera #1 from now on), an old box Argus 75 for my secondary camera (camera #2), my stackable zoom filters (I don’t have a macro lens), and my Tube of Darkness. Put together it looks like this:

You can pick up an old box camera fairly cheap at flea markets, antique stores, or ebay. Cameras like the Argus 75 were so overly mass produced in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, you can find them all over the place. I picked mine up on ebay for $4.99 plus shipping!

 Here it is pulled apart:

The Tube of Darkness:

To block out the light between cameras, I used a 3 inch cardboard tube that I cut down to 6 inches long,¬†and a black (fuzzy) sock (lost the match) of which I cut the toe off. I slipped the black sock over the cardboard tube, so that there is equal excess material at the top and bottom of the tube. Then I slipped the tube over the open viewfinder on camera #2, and used saftey pins to secure it around camera #2’s straps, making sure it’s pulled tight, yet not to cover camera #2’s lens. And viola! a Tube of Darkness!

And since I use an SLR camera, I just dip my lens into the tube, and pull the top excess sock material over camera #1’s lens. The sock works great because of the elasticity, it keeps a snug fit over the camera’s, keeping out the light. Sorry, I can’t show you a picture of the SLR in the Tube of Darkness because I only have one camera!


I took the picture, now what?

Honestly, that’s up to you and your taste! First off, crop off all that excess around the image. Most people leave a small border around though. After that, editing is all up to you! I have heard that a lot of people like to used the Urban Acid Photoshop Action. I have tried it, but usually end up just playing with the tones and colors on my own, so I can’t give you an example of it.¬†Then why not upload it to Flickr? There are a ton of TTV Flickr groups! Not to mention the ton of information you can find in those groups! The largest one, Through the Viewfinder, has a blog with a ton of information, including a list of a variety of different secondary (base)¬†cameras that can be used. Check that out here.

I hope you enjoyed my lil tutorial/informative blog! Now I’m gonna shamelessly self-promote ūüôā

More of my TTV images

This is the very first TTV I took. This is my daughter. What I love about this image, is that it looks like a picture that fell out of my baby book!





This picture was actually chosen as the picture of the day on Absolute Michigan’s Michigan in Pictures Blog!

“A Newaygo View”


“Museum of Newaygo”


All of my work can be puchased as premium art cards, and most are available as matted prints, laminated prints, mounted prints, canvas prints, framed prints, and posters. All in varying sizes. To see more work and/or purchase click here. (or click on a particular image)

Example Card:


Author: kklawiter

Cover Artist and Photographer

2 thoughts on “TTV: Through the Viewfinder”

  1. I just wanted to say that i really love your blog, your pictures i great. I also wanted to thank you for this post, it was very helpful, to me as i love photography and i am just starting to pursue my passion. Your phots were an inspiration and have given me new ideas.

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