Through the viewfinder (a Photoshop tutorial of sorts) « Hank & Willie


I’m rarely on the bandwagon with photo processing trends, mostly because, well, have you seen the pile of laundry in my living room? And, oh, and these guys keep me a little busy, too.

So while the rest of the photo enthusiasts I love to read were playing with things like selective color, way back when, and texture, sloppy borders, vintage washes and cross processing, I just watched from the sidelines.

But I recently came across this clever technique, called TTV (Through the Viewfinder). Basically, you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera, using your modern digital or film camera, and create an interesting framing effect in camera. I thought to myself, “That’s kind of fun.”

Apparently hundreds of other people thought the same thing, and decided to make a Flickr group and share their images. You’ll see some AMAZING versions of this technique there.

However, the laundry in my living room didn’t go anywhere, and the 9,000 other things that beckon kept beckoning, so it remained a nice idea until I saw this–a way to do it digitally, without hunting for an old camera to shoot through. Hooray!

So I tried it. And thought I would share the steps with you, since so many of you have taught me wonderful Photoshop techniques.

Hope you’ll share some of your tries with this technique. Or, if you don’t have Photoshop and want me to try on one of your photos, I will pick a few that people send me to try it. (Email me a high-res version at hankandwillieATgmailDOTcom.)

TTV-Through the Viewfinder

1. Find a suitable photo. I loved the old-fashioned feel of the print in her dress, her pigtails and the timeless watermelon-in-summer-moment.

2. Since this effect mimics the old waist-height viewfinders with square pictures, I cropped this one square, even though her buddy was equally cute.

3. Edit to taste. I’ve seen this done with strong, vibrant color, with black and white and with sepia. I went for kind of a mild vintage feel here, using Pioneer Woman’s Soft and Faded action here and reduced the opacity a bit to restore some of the bright color of her watermelon.

4. I opened this file, shared by a very generous photographer out there in Flickrland.There’s a whole group of “through a viewfinder shots” to download here, choose the speckle pattern you like best!

It looks like this:

5. Using layers, drag it on top of your open, edited image, and size it to fit. ( I used free transform.)

6. Choose a blend mode, and voila! (I used multiply, and reduced the opacity to about 80%. You can also try other blending modes, like soft light and hard light for different effects.)

The whole thing took longer to write about than to do. Here are a few other examples.

If you try this, I’d love to see the results, post your link in the comments!

And want to see a super cool way to use this? Photographer Tara Whitney decorated a whole wall with her family photos this way. Wow.

Happy PhotoShopping!

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