TtV Contraption v2.0

When I got my first Duaflex back in October 2009, I was so excited to get out and start shooting through the viewfinder (TtV) pictures that I made the most slap-dash, instant-gratification, quick-fix sort of contraption: I rolled up some bright yellow posterboard, cut out around the lens,scotch-taped the seams, and away I went. It looked like this:


After more than six months of hauling it around, I have to say the posterboard contraption is looking a little worse for wear. Plus, now that I’m really starting to stretch my abilities with TtV photography, I want to try things like this, so I could play along with Happy Bench Monday, a group on Flickr where people take pictures of themselves standing on benches. (No, really!)

455:1000 Happy Bench Monday TtV

Which entails me using the self timer and propping my heavy (and valuable!) dSLR on some flimsy and now dog-eared posterboard contraption that’s worn bare in several spots. (If nothing else, you can tell my camera equipment is well-used if not in pristine condition.) But thing like this kept happening.

HBM outtake

So I decided to make a new contraption. I am spotted with delight to unveil my TtV contraption 2.0, the polka-dotted menace. (That’s so not a good name. Thoughts?)


Isn’t it groovy? You’re dying to know what it’s made out of, right? A liquor-store gift canister! Isn’t that excellent? I had one in the house left over from Christmas (see, being a packrat DOES pay off) but it was too narrow. So when I was in the liquor store today (for no reason whatsoever, I swear) I took a peek and sure enough, they had these extra large ones that are not only awesome in their polka-dotted splendor, but they fit the Duaflex like a glove. And the cardboard is heavy-duty, but not so impenetrable that I couldn’t make the necessary cut-outs with an x-acto knife.

I could have just left the lid off and used the contraption like that, but I really really wanted something that I could set on a flat surface for timer shots or longer exposures. The problem was the pop-up flash on the D40 kept getting in the way of the camera sitting flat.

So I built this lip out the inner spool thingee of a masking tape roll.


I can’t tell you how pleased I am with myself. This is how it looks all together.


Look closely, you can see itty-bitty upside down me in the Duaflex’s mirror! The only thing it’s missing is a handle. That’s coming for version 2.1, hoping to have it in beta release some time next week.

For those of you just tuning in and wondering what the heck I’m doing, here’s a quick primer. This is a Kodak Duaflex camera, made about 60 years ago.


Back in the day, you had to hold the camera down around your waist and look down through the viewfinder on the top of the camera when you were composing your picture. A second lens underneath the viewfinder would open and actually expose the film. It’s called a twin-lens reflex camera.

Looking down from the top, this is what the viewfinder looks like.


So TtV photography is simply shooting a picture of what you see in looking through the viewfinder. It gives your pictures a square black frame, which some people choose to crop out but I choose to leave in, and a funky, retro sort of look because of the distortions in the glass.

You need the contraption to cut down on the glare on the viewfinder. You shoot down through the contraption like this.


And now, I can balance my fancy new contraption v2.0 on my kids’ picnic table in the back yard, set the self-timer, and take TtV selfies like this.


How cool is that?

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

15 thoughts on “TtV Contraption v2.0”

  1. okay.
    i bow to your ingenuity. you are not just another pretty face in a self portrait;) – cunning and clever and crafty, too!

    and i immediately recognized the lcbo carton…that is a good thing, right???

    i am so impressed, truly!!

  2. See now when you first started posting about TtV photography, I must admit that I only partially understood the concept.

    Now that I can see the admittedly BRILLIANT contraption “in action”, I totally get it. Very ingenious of you, not to mention stylish!

  3. Necessity is the mother of invention ~ congrats to the creative mom of postcards from the mothership 🙂

  4. OMG that is the coolest thing EVER. I love the way you made the photos turn out. I can’t believe you did that!!! Super cool looking.

  5. That is very cool! Great job! I think I know where I’m going tomorrow morning. And it’s not to buy a bottle of wine. 🙂

  6. Huzzah! I’ve been dying to know *how* to do this so that I don’t break my lovely dslr. Thank you thank you thank you!

    I am going to do a happy dance all the way to the liquor store!

  7. I just got my argus 75 today. I’m so dying to get started, and we are going to Chicago this weekend. I wanted to play with it there, but I don’t have the time to try to make something before tomorrow morning. Drat…. oh well, Myrtle Beach is in August.

    Thanks for posting.

  8. went to an art fair last night and purchased a photograph from an artist using this technique….VERY neat process…awesome retro colors….your explanation made sense..I did not understand until reading your post! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *