Through the viewfinder (a Photoshop tutorial of sorts)

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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32 Responses to “Through the viewfinder (a Photoshop tutorial of sorts)”

  1. JC Says:

    GOOD GOD WOMAN!

    I LOVE YOUR PHOTOS!

    PROST!

  2. JenBun Says:

    Wow, that turned out AMAZINGLY well!

    I’ll have to try this sometime…

    Thanks for sharing this fun technique! (And all the links!)

  3. killlashandra Says:

    Great tutorial steps! Your pictures turned out awesome! Regardless of the loads of laundry you’ve got waiting for your undivided attention this activity seems like way more fun. :)

  4. Maya Says:

    I’m going to check this out! Super cool!

  5. B. Says:

    Great shots. They are so cool I can’t pick a favorite…who needs clean socks anyway!

  6. carrievoris Says:

    I found these awhile back…I can’t remember how I got to them. And I played with them, but I don’t think I ever posted the results! Now, I need to go back and look for the ones I was messing with…I love the TTV effect and I really, really LOVE what Tara did – that is definitely going to get stolen…

  7. phyllis Says:

    very cool. thanks for sharing this!

  8. Sarah Says:

    oh oh dear. I’m already hopelessly addicted to PS actions as it is! Clearly that is just a gateway drug, though. ;)

  9. Brillig Says:

    First of all, wow! Way cool!

    Secondly, I just realized that I never published your guest post over at my place, and I feel like a complete moron. I could never get the pics to work, so I started writing you an email and… lo and behold… it’s sitting in my draft folder. Anyway, you must think I’m such a jerk. I’m really not! I promise! If you wanna try again, we certainly can! We can try to get the old post to work or (if you think that one’s outdated) we can do a new one. Either way… lemme know!

  10. MGF Says:

    Thanks for the great tip. I can not wait to play around with the new texture. I would like to use this with a picture form the Sand Dunes.

  11. Christina Says:

    Anna! I am so thrilled to see a tutorial from you, and hope this is the first of many more to come. Yes? The TTV effect is so much fun…I have played with it a little bit, but I will have to do more and post them! Especially now that you shared that link to a tresure trove of textures for it!

  12. apple cyder Says:

    Thanks for this Anna. I’ve been seeing this on flickr too, and love it. May have to dedicate some lunch break time to the computer lab on campus to do this.

  13. carrievoris Says:

    Ok – I had to go dig out the TTV I had from before and played a bit last night. This one was one of my favorites. http://www.flickr.com/photos/voris/2784622945/in/photostream/

  14. thelandofka Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I am definitely going to try this out, and I love your examples. :)

  15. CuriousC Says:

    These are beautiful! I’ve been trying to play, too, but I don’t think I have the right software. Which version of Photoshop do you need?

  16. createmo Says:

    Thank you for your site :-)
    I made with photoshop backgrounds for youtube, myspace and whatever
    my backgrounds:http://tinyurl.com/6ptkxd
    all the best and thank you again!

  17. ginger Says:

    Thanks so much for the great photoshop tips!
    NEVER knew about the whole blend mode/opacity thing how great!
    couldn’t figure out how to use pioneer woman’s faded action…
    maybe i don’t have the right version of photoshop!
    But i just fixed up an okay picture of my boys for our Christmas card!
    So thanks so much! I would post but don’t have an ‘official’ website!

  18. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) | Web Development News Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  19. CMS Code Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  20. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) | Greenwich Village Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder [...]

  21. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) | rssubmit.com Webmasters-Blogs-Resources Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  22. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) « Top 10 Web Hosting Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  23. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) | Awesome Pixels Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  24. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) « Dizzy Blog Says:

    [...] Textures and Double Exposure Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the [...]

  25. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) - Smashing Magazine Says:

    [...] [...]

  26. Mitch Says:

    I loved this tutorial! Thank so much! Take a look at my result if you’d like!

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_l4tmu9rUgR1qakimoo1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1277977447&Signature=DZJwtmV5hLml8uxzZ9%2Bxq%2FC82p4%3D

  27. Zach Says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! One thing that I’ve noticed on a lot of “real” TTV shots is the slight distortion and blurring at the edges. I added an inverse pinch and some masked blur to this shot…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/76302244@N00/4995103144/

  28. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) « Anki1991's Blog Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  29. Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (With Photoshop Tutorials) « Photo related stuff Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  30. fancifuldevices Says:

    ok, 2 years after you posted it, I am using it in myt shop pics here: fancifuldevices.etsy.com
    thank you so so so much!

  31. Nowy wpis – tutorial « goooddesign Says:

    [...] Through the Viewfinder37 Did you know that Flickr has a Through the Viewfinder group? The idea is that you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera using your modern digital or film camera and create an interesting framing effect. Here is a tutorial on how to create this effect. [...]

  32. Angi ~Mistress of Mayhem Says:

    So cool! Thanks for sharing the tutorial! I love the TTV look – so many ways to use it. Tara Whitney…well, she’s just awesome!

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