Shooting Through the Viewfinder

Photography & Video
Shooting Through the Viewfinder

Over the weekend, I visited the California Academy of Sciences with my family, and while in the aquarium area, I noticed a cool camera contraption. Jen Kennedy, who teaches photography at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill, California, was shooting her DSLR through what looked like a Pringles can into a an older camera body. Turns out, she was using the macro-like functionality of the tube to look through the viewfinder on the older camera. When doing this, you get all of the nuances of the older camera’s lens, captured with your digital camera.

Duplicating this project wouldn’t be too difficult, and something that would be a great project for amateur photographers. Simply start with a macro lens (or I would assume that a long zoom lens would work too), a cardboard tube like a Pringles can, and an older camera. A camera that has a top down viewfinder, like on many medium format cameras, would make the process much easier.

Jen sent me two photos from the California Academy of Sciences, and the third is from the Japanese Tea Gardens. I want to see more!

For more macro photography, check out this video from MAKE Volume 06

YouTube player

And here’s the article from the magazine: Macro Photography on a Budget

8 thoughts on “Shooting Through the Viewfinder

  1. John D says:

    Very cool to see TTV on Make. I love the technique. If anyone is interested in seeing/learning more there’s a great flickr group with tutorials and, of course, lots of great pics.

  2. Thebes says:

    In addition to “the nuances of the older camera’s lens” you will also be getting the texture of its focusing screen, maybe some fresnel rings, and the flaws in its mirror. If you use a TLR you will often be using a poorer lens intended for viewing not taking.

    You might get an interesting look that you could not with your dSLR on it’s own. But the pictures will probably be much different from the photographs the camera made (and likely still can) on film.

  3. Russ Morris says:

    Just so happens that I shot up the San Mateo Maker Faire TtV-style back in 2009 – check out my Flickr set here…

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m with Thebes on this. The “nuances” are mostly defects which the TRL user had to put up with while waiting for something better. What’s next? How about pointing the TLR at the DSLR’s display? How about 3 or even 10 cameras in series? Challenge presented! Get to work.

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