Through-the-viewfinder photography, otherwise known as TTV, is a great way to spice up your pictures. The idea is to take a picture through the viewfinder of another camera. Naturally, this will reduce the quality of the picture, but it’s precisely this distressed, grungy look we’re after.
You can shoot through the viewfinder of just about any sort of camera, but an old twin lens reflex will give the best results as the viewfinder is big and bright.
As with many of these in-camera lo-fi techniques there’s a far amount of happenstance, trial and error, so you’ll need to experiment with the exposure settings, focus and lighting. It’s good to keep the rough viewfinder border in your shoot as it adds to the ‘vintage’ look.
Chances are the viewfinder of the camera you’re using will be square, but you can crop the edges off easily enough in the digital darkroom. As the viewfinder gives you a mirror image of the object, you may wish to flip it later too.
Let’s see how it’s done…
01 Find an old camera
You’ll need a second camera with a viewfinder to shoot through, ideally a twin lens reflex. We found a secondhand Halina Prefect on eBay for around £15. As it’s rather old there’s a fair amount of dust and scratches, but this just adds to the overall effect.
02 Light leaks
Light may leak in between your camera’s lens and the viewfinder. The solution is to make a box and attach it to the top of the viewfinder with electrical tape. Decide which lens you’re going to use and measure how far your D-SLR needs to be from the old camera before making the shield.
03 The shoot
Take a picture through the viewfinder of the TLR with your Nikon SLR – you’ll have to point your camera down to do this. Use it handheld. Switch your focus ring to manual. You need to focus on the scene in the viewfinder, not the screen itself, and this can throw auto focusing off.