through the viewfinder tutorial

Recently someone commented on this photo over at Flickr. "You've achieved here through a dirty window pane what others emulate in PS! Well seen and captured 'au naturale' !" It's no good, I've got to come clean.

belfast TTV image

bring it into photoshop, sharpen it up, boost the contrast, tweak the curves, slide the levels, dodge, burn, adjust, tweak a bit

Before I got all "pure" or lazy, depending on how you look at it, I would wrestle an image to the ground. I'd beat it into submission using any means necessary. Now this probably isn't the "done thing" in photographic circles, but what the hell, a good photograph is a good photograph regardless of how you went about it.
Digital photography is brilliant, no doubt about it. But the thing you find is that you never have a result. You always have to bring it into photoshop, sharpen it up, boost the contrast, tweak the curves, slide the levels, dodge, burn, adjust, tweak a bit more… then tweak some more, until eventually a week later you're happy with the result. With film you always had a result. All the tweaking was built into the type of film you used. You developed, printed and had a result.
Now digital photographers go to great lengths to replicate the endless limitations/idiosyncrasies of old film cameras. Now you can have an "App" on your iPhone to turn your snaps into a Polaroid. You can download scripts to mimic Lomo or Holga cameras. It's similar to record producers sticking the hiss and scratch into the mix to give it that old analogue vinyl feel. How ever much we strive for perfection, we still hanker back to the good old days when nothing really worked that well.

There's a technique in digital photography called TTV, or Through The Viewfinder. You take an old camera, like a Kodak Duaflex, it must have that big bubble viewfinder glass on top. You construct a tube that fits over the viewfinder and slot your state of the art DSLR into the tube. Essentially you're taking a digital photograph through a rather crappy 60 year old lens. But the results are usually very striking.
The way you frame a photograph is diferent as well. The Rule of Thirds more or less goes out the window, the periphery goes and you end up with a compact, impactful result (after tweaking, curving, levelling, boosting, cropping etc etc). But what happens if you don't have an old Kodak… you fake it.

The image above was taken out of my office window. No matter how many times I tried to photograph it, I never got it right. When I closed my eyes I saw the deep terra-cotta of the brick, the patina of the copper, the mould and dirt on the window, the utter dereliction and neglect. But very time I photographed it, well it was always… well, boring, flat, badly composed, cluttered, I never saw what I saw when I closed my eyes, so I decided to fake TTV the result.

Original Image
belfast image original

Cropping process
I closed my eyes and kept the parts of the image I remembered.
belfast image cropped
belfast image cropped

Combining images
Bring in your viewfinder image, I downloaded mine from the Noise & Dust group.
belfast TTV combination
You place the "dust" image over your original image. Here's the trick though, highlight the Dust layer and in the blending options choose "Multiply". That magically turns the dust layer into a lens, allowing you to see through to the image below. Some tweaking with the curves to give it that "green tint", check the Urban Acid group for some inspiration and that was more or less it.

It's faked and it's photoshopped but I don't think it matters to be honest. It's a cracking image and it's exactly what I saw when I looked out that window.