TtV Photography Tutorial Part I: The Camera and Building the Tube

My weekend was mostly fun but there was a bit in there that involved driving a car nearly three hours back home with only 2nd gear and reverse, and God forbid you come to a stop because it’s nearly impossible to get the damn thing moving again and when it does it shucks and jives for all its worth, so today I thought I’d post something fun. 
TtV is short for ‘through the viewfinder,’ and it means to use a digital camera to take pictures through the viewfinder of a vintage camera. The images you can capture are really fun, and sometimes sort of spooky.
What You Need:
– An old camera
– A tube used for mailing posters/large photos, or something similar
– Electrical tape
– Thin, flexible cardboard (cereal box or something similar)
– Black marker or paint marker
First, you’ll need a camera with a waist-level viewfinder, i.e., one that you look down into to snap the picture. I used my grandma’s old Kodak Hawkeye Brownie, which is probably the most common camera you’ll find if you’re looking for one for TtV. Others are mentioned here in this Flickr thread. There are other cameras with larger viewfinders than the Brownie, but again, a Brownie is the easiest to find. 
Next, clean the camera if necessary. I couldn’t see through the viewfinder at all on the Brownie, so I took it apart using this tutorial. I read about old Brownies having fungus growing inside them and thought to myself, yeah, how in the world does that happen? And then I found fungus. Lesson learned, girlfriend. If you can see through the viewfinder on your camera already, then you are miles ahead. 
Next, we build the tube. There are a million ways to do it, this is just what I did. The tube connects the two cameras and provides total darkness so your digital camera focuses through the viewfinder of the old camera. 

Take a mailing tube or whatever you’re using and cut it down to about 6 inches in length. (I cut mine down further after taking the above picture. Of course.) I wrapped the ends in electrical tape to smooth out the fuzzies and rough edges left over after cutting.

The flexible cardboard is going to make the bridge that connects the tiny viewfinder to the big mailing tube. Cut a 2-3 inch chunk of it…

…and shape it around the viewfinder. When you’ve got it shaped and cut down to size, paint the inside black with a Sharpie or a black paint marker. This piece needs to be completely dark on the inside, because if any light seeps in around the viewfinder, it can mess up how the camera focuses.

Use more tape to seal it shut. 

Next, take another chunk of the thin cardboard and place the viewfinder tube on it. Trace around the tube and then carefully cut the shape out. Then center the cutout in the large mailing tube, trace around it, and cut it out. Paint it black or cover with electrical tape.

Next, connect the viewfinder tube to the piece you just cut, making a little top hat. (I used a massive amount of tape to accomplish this.)

Connect the top hat to the mailing tube, and you’re done, son. 

You now have a tube to connect the cameras. Look through it and make sure the part that sits on top of the viewfinder hasn’t lost its shape – it should be a nice tight rectangle.
My tube was built using things I had around the house, and is fairly sturdy for being held together with prayer and electrical tape. You can build yours as sturdy as your like, using whatever materials you have. 
On Wednesday I’ll finish up the tutorial – how to take TtV pictures, what they look like, and how to edit them a bit. 
See you then!