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

How I Got Hooked

Finding Alice's Looking Glass


I'd seen a very cool picture on flickr of a rusted out trolley sitting in the middle of a field taken through the ground glass viewfinder of a Yashica A TLR camera. It was taken by Carrie Musgrave of Delineated fame on April 6, 2006.

A bit of time passed until I won an ArgoFlex 75 in auction on eBay and was able to try this myself. My first TtV shot, taken using that ArgoFlex 75 with my Pentax *ist D, was a picture of a plant in a pot on a stand that I titled Mini-Geranium. That was on May 27, 2006.

Mystery Man

I discovered Mr. E. on flickr right around the same time. I was instantly intrigued by his work, searched through his stream and found one picture that somewhat demonstrated how he was accomplishing his wonderful shots. A little digging around in his stream and I found out what camera he was using for his latest work — a Kodak Duaflex.

Mr. E.'s Self Portrait

Through his flickr profile I found the Through the Viewfinder group, and learned more about the Photoshop Actions that were being used to achieve the TtV look. Plus I found even more cool inspiring photos and ideas for contraptions.

My first Mr. E. machine was lost in the mail. He and I had agreed to exchange one of his Duaflex cameras for an old Minolta AL-F I had through the flickr Camera Trade group. While I waited for the second Duaflex from Mr. E. to arrive I won an eBay auction for a really nice Duaflex for my own experimentation. Along the way, I also discovered that I'd need to use a macro lens for focusing on the Duaflex viewfinder. Fortunately, I have a Sigma 28-135mm Zoom w/130mm macro for my *ist D. I was in business. I just needed a way to block light.

Rough Construction


I created my first contraption from black construction paper using rough measurements taken directly from the Duaflex. I made holes for the lenses and film advance knob to poke through, wrapped the paper channel around the camera body and secured it with a lot of gaffers tape. My flickr set, TtV: myContraption - v1.0 shows that first attempt, which was around June 10, 2006.

It wasn't long before I caught a glimpse of Paul Pennell's smoke stack contraption posted on the flickr TtV group. I liked how it didn't mess with the camera in any way, it just sat on top with rubber bands holding it to the Duaflex. The only thing missing was portability.

Talking about this with my brilliant wife resulted in a fantastic idea. Make a contraption that folds up and fits in my camera bag with both the Duaflex and my *ist D.

myContraption-v2 was born.


cc 2006-2010 Russ Morris +

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