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Through the Viewfinder: A Tutorial
By Russ Morris - August 10, 2006

Gimme Three Steps

Taking the Picture

Cradle Duaflex, Slip Contraption On

While cradling the bottom of the Duaflex with my left hand, I slip myContraption-v2 over the Duaflex and hold the channel in place with my index finger, just below the taking lens.

Next, I hold my digital camera with my right hand, then stick the macro lens down the channel, bring the camera to my face, peer into the DSLR viewfinder and frame up the shot. I stand or stoop, just like I do with TLRs and any other camera I use. Nothing is different about that part of the process. I let the camera take care of autofocus, pressing the shutter release slightly - beepbeep! In focus. Shoot.

Stick macro

I'll generally fire off multiples, just for insurance - all the while checking the composition and framing.

There are stories in the flickr TtV group about how various P&S and DSLR cameras manage autofocus, and it can be tricky. But manual focus is extremely difficult, so be warned.

Image Sizing

My DSLR is 6.3 MP - 3008 x 2008 px - so I've been sizing my TtV shots to 2200 x 2200 px square.

I copy the shot from my CF card to a directory on my computer. I always, always, always work on a copy of the original, so I open the JPEG with Photoshop and save a working copy it to another directory. Your file management system and mine are likely to be different, so I'll leave how you do that up to you.

Working Copy

Now that I have the working copy open, I select all (command-a), reverse the foreground/background colors (x) so that black is background, Free Transform (command-t), and move the visible image to near the center of the open file window. If the image is crooked, I grab a corner handle and rotate the transform box either way to make it level and plumb. I use the bottom of the TtV image for finding level. It helps to show ruler (command-r) and drag a guide to near the bottom of the TtV image. Level? plumb? Hit enter to make your changes.

Next, I select the Crop Tool and enter 2200 x 2200 px as the width and height, 72 dpi. I click and drag the cursor from the upper left of the TtV image down to the lower right, leaving some black edge around the image. I center the image using the arrow keys. Once I'm happy with the placement, hitting enter makes the image 2200 pixels square.

Photoshop Actions & Cross Processing

Urban Acid

There are two Photoshop Actions that I've played with, Urban Acid (Action Central) and Schanz_XP_2002. Urban Acid tends to make things green, Schanz has a blue thing going on. I settled on Urban Acid, with a personal tweak.

Running the Urban Acid action creates a new file. After I run the Urban Acid action, I delete the Muted Colors layer. The remaining image is nicely saturated, just the way I like these TtV photos.

Next, I flatten the image and save it as a JPEG with a useful name. Your method of saving to JPEG is probably not the same as mine, and that's really a personal preference. Go with what works for you. What you do with the results is up to you. Size it to accommodate your photoblog, upload to flickr - the choices are endless!

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