29 September 2008

ttv monday and good morning to you

apparently, I cannot shut up for a second about through the viewfinder. I'm over at shutter sisters today, running my mouth, professing my love. again. it can't be helped, you know. I'm very much smitten.

(tracey, thank you. I wear the honorary shutter sister sash with much pride.)

22 September 2008

I'll try if you will

hey fall, please don't take my forced smile and phony enthusiasm too personally. I'll come around. eventually. I really will. once the trees start in with all the glowing and the leaves do that thing where they float and dance around in the air and crunch under foot, I'll soften. when I've baked my first real loaf of banana bread and cooked up my first pot of butternut squash soup, I'll feel better about you. I promise.

a new pair of boots wouldn't hurt your case. and if you really want to seal the deal, throw in a couple pairs of new tights. that might do it. because you were made for tights and boots. and sweaters. oh, sweaters. it's all that crisp air, you know. you're sort of famous for that.

so I think I'm starting to warm up to the idea of you. just don't be so stingy with the sunshine. all bets are off when you start messing with the sun.

p.s. you smell good. I'll give you that.

15 September 2008

today, you can go anywhere you want

today, you can visit italy. scroll down here until you land on bisceglia, italy part two. you will find yourself in the middle of the most terrific italian alleyway and you will not want to leave. there will be a dance involving two guys named domenico and gilles, freestyle handstands, passing scooters and swooping birds. there will be another dance involving a small group of locals and a bit of giggling. listen to the sounds and it will feel like you are there. you will feel like you are in an alleyway somewhere in italy and it will feel like dance is everywhere. because it is.

today, you can follow margaret kilgallen around san francisco. listen while she talks about handmade signs and wavering lines, watch while she climbs a red ladder in her studio, walk with her through the trainyards. she will talk about where the beauty is and you might find yourself nodding like I did.

today, you can look at 17 things amy made. then you can visit chicago and see what happened when she set out to make the 18th thing. it will make you want to make things, it will make you want to celebrate the things you've already made, it will make you want to cry. I know I did.

08 September 2008

about this 'through the viewfinder' thing

in the the realm of through the viewfinder (aka ttv) photography, I am a newbie. half the time I have no idea what I'm doing. the other half, I am totally winging it. that said, I'm happy to share my process here because sharing is nice, sharing is good and I'll not have anyone say otherwise.

what it is: the photographing of a subject through the viewfinder of any camera with another camera.

what you'll need: a camera with a viewfinder on top, a digital camera and a contraption to block the glare (which can be made from a piece of cardboard and some black duct tape).

(my small army of cameras)

a word about viewfinder cameras: mostly, people use old twin lens reflex cameras to shoot through. the most widely-used one seems to be the kodak duaflex, which is what I started with a couple years ago. currently, I am having a little love affair with my argus seventy-five but I'd appreciate it if you'd keep that on that DL, peeps. anyway. there are all sorts of cameras out there that can be used for ttv and all you really need is that viewfinder. of course, the most gorgeous viewfinders belong to yashicas and hasselblads (but if you aren't using those pretty babies to shoot film, well then I don't know what). if you're looking to score a kodak duaflex (or similar camera), your best bet is to regularly check etsy, ebay and/or keep your eyes open at antique shops, fleamarkets and the like. you can expect to pay anywhere from five to thirty dollars (sometimes a bit more) per camera, depending on the condition and model. while the prices have gone up a bit (karen can testify to some fierce ebay wars), cameras like this are still widely available. you just have to be patient and do some looking around.

(through the viewfinder of a hasselblad)

(through the viewfinder of a kodak duaflex III)

a word about digital cameras: most people get the best results using a digital SLR. even better if you have a macro lens. I use the standard 18-55mm lens with my nikon D40 because it's all I have and quite frankly, it gets the job done. though I am all the time salivating over fancier lenses and bigger camera bodies and I'll ditch what I have just as soon as my sugar daddy ponies up. which might be never. anyway. all you really need is a camera that will automatically focus because once you stick that lens into the ttv contraption, there's no focusing it on your own. and those of you with point and shoot cameras, take heart: when I first started experimenting with ttv, all I had was my trusty little canon powershot A610. it's trickier, less predictable and much more fickle than using a DSLR but as long as you have a macro setting, you're good. definitely workable. witness: my first TtV shot. also, I took this one and this one with the canon powershot. just sayin.

she's a little wonky

and now, about the contraption: the contraption is really just a tube that helps to block the light out and prevent glare. there are some people who shoot without one and really, I'm in awe. because I have not been so successful without my wonky cardboard contraption. but you know, more power and all that. you can play around without one though I highly recommend the device. there's a terrific template (and tutorial, natch) you can use to make a perfectly shaped device that will fit right over the body of your duaflex (or whatever you're using). but I have no patience for templates. when I am really excited about something I can barely stand to follow any sort of directions, I want to jump in right away and get going. I did not use the template. I mean, I wanted to use the template, I still want to use the template, I think maybe one of these days I probably will use the template. I so want to be a template sort of girl but I'm just not. but I want to be. I'll tell you one thing, I like the word template. it's so good. say it a couple of times. template. t e m p l a t e. see? so good.

how I made my contraption: this is the part where I wish I had neato photos and easy-to-follow steps for you. though given my previous confession, it should come as no surprise that I rocked it freestyle all the way. basically, I dumped the contents out of a mostly full cereal box, flattened it, eyeballed it a bit and then cut out a long rectangular shape that looked similar to other contraptions I'd seen online. I wrapped it around the top of the camera, played around with it until it fit my duaflex/argus just right, trimmed off the excess, taped the ends together and covered the entire thing with black duct tape. then I popped that sucker on top of the camera, secured it with a few more small pieces of tape and got serious about the shooting. no time for templates and measuring devices for me. well okay, and it shows. my contraption is the ugly duckling of ttv contraptions but she gets the job done and I love her for it. that's all that really matters anyway. if you're struggling with the contraption, gimme a holler and we'll talk. or maybe I'll break down and post laughable photos of me transforming a fruity pebbles cereal box into ttv magic. I'm not too proud, people.

(superhero andrea hard at work)

some words about shooting: this is the fun part. but also the trickiest and potentially most frustrating part. this is where you have to let go and wholly surrender to play and experimentation. I'll tell you, it's a little awkward. especially at first. you are holding the old camera from the bottom with one hand while holding your digital camera (which is all shoved into that big cardboard device at the top) with the other hand. it looks and feels a little like you're walking around with a bazooka. then there's all the adjusting you'll have to do, the fiddling with the zoom and the auto focus. I recommend setting your camera on auto (or program) until you get the hang of it. then you can start playing around with it manually. to further complicate things, the image in the viewfinder is reversed. this makes things doubly confusing when trying to find and frame your subject. all I can say is, keep playing around. it's the only way. it'll get easier. I promise.

about the final step: cropping. most of the time you won't even be able to tell what you've gotten because all you'll be able to make out is this tiny square image in a sea of black. you'll want to delete delete delete but don't. suppress the urge to delete because it's only when you start to crop the images afterwards (either in iphoto or photoshop or whatever) that you'll be able to see what you've really gotten. and that's the best part, it really is. well, that and the moment you really start to get it. and then, before you even know what's happening, you are totally and completely hopelessly hooked. so watch out. and don't say I didn't warn you. because I swear, you won't know what hit you.

and now, an obscene amount of TtV linkage, just for you:

TtV tutorial by russ morris (props to mr. morris who has mad TtV skills and way more knowledge than I do. I highly recommend you give his stuff a good read or two)

russ morris' JPG article (more good reading)

russ morris' tv spot (if you can't read well then you can watch)

photojojo's ttv bit (a different perspective plus fun to read plus more linkage)

the ttv blog (for inspiration)

the ttv flickr group (for more inspiration, plus you can join)

a nifty book you can buy (who doesn't love a book?)

next up: actually loading that argus seventy-five with re-spooled 120 film and shooting for reals. that's where I'm headed next. I'll keep you posted.

04 September 2008

better than everything in the sky

this is not at all what you had in mind, you think. no, this simply will not do.

you spend the afternoon taking care of your sick child. you wait nervously for the high fever to go down. you prepare yourself for the worst, for projectile vomiting or maybe even febrile seizures. you think of febrile seizures because you have a penchant for the dramatic. you haven't always been this way but febrile seizures, they really could happen. naturally, this terrifies you. you don't want to think about things like febrile seizures. not today, or any day for that matter, but especially not today. you take your son's temperature every fifteen minutes, hoping the frequency of your readings will magically bring it down a degree or two. you want results, no matter how irrational the method. you exchange one cool washcloth for another, trade worried glances with your husband though clearly, he is not as worried as you are. in fact, he's perfectly calm. this annoys you. you don't want to feel annoyed with him. not now, not today but it's too late. you are officially annoyed.

finally, the mysterious fever breaks and your son bounces around the room like a giant red ball. he's a brand new person and you are so relieved. deep down, you know it's just the ibuprofen but you don't care. suddenly, you find yourself at the mall. at payless shoes, of all places. you are looking at plastic shoes with your daughter when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. there you are, dirty hair and all. you realize you haven't changed clothes in a couple of days. and you are wearing taupe. taupe. you look like someone's mother. how did this happen? then, before you even know what's happening, you're at old navy looking at socks. you stand under fluorescent lights and contemplate the impressive selection of toddler-sized socks. they're having a sale, eight pairs for ten dollars! yes or no? ezra doesn't really need eight pairs of socks (no one really does) but they're on sale and it goes against everything in you to ignore this. and so you deliberate. this is when it hits you. you are spending your 14th wedding anniversary in old navy in front of a giant wall of socks. this makes you sad.

you wonder what happened. that man you married, does he feel the same way? surely he knows this is not right. you realize that he is also looking at the giant wall of socks. he asks you about colors and sizes, he earnestly wants to help you with this decision. you do nothing but nod blankly. fourteen years ago, you stood together in a church before God and everyone. now you are standing before a large display of socks. you're not sure what happened. you don't know what you expected but you are nowhere near the quiet anniversary celebration you originally had in mind. you long for fancy food on pretty plates, for white linen tablecloths and the flicker of candles. for something, anything. but really, you are in no shape for such an evening. you are a mess. your clothes are a mess, your hair is a mess and you feel old. what you want to feel is radiant, beautiful, luminous. you want to feel like a new bride. instead, you feel old and over.

fourteen years ago today, you were married. you wore important outfits. him, a smart-looking tuxedo and you, a soft white gown, fresh flowers in your hair. late afternoon sunlight filled the sanctuary and you said meaningful things to each other, exchanged rings. there was the sweetness of a kiss. people smiled and congratulated you. people ate fluffy white cake. you were exuberant. the both of you drove through the streets of downtown atlanta in your tiny grey ford festiva, dragging aluminum cans and a rainbow of streamers behind you. he pounded on the horn while you flung your arms wildly out the window. you couldn't stop smiling, couldn't stop looking at each other, touching each other. you couldn't believe you'd done it. you got married.

you are home from the mall now and the medicine has worn off. the fever is back, higher than ever. you sit on the couch next to your child and beg him to please drink the water. fluids, you say. you need fluids. every three seconds, you offer him more cold water. you wonder if you should call the advice nurse again, you try to hide how worried you really are. you hold his head in your lap and sing funny little songs to him, songs that he loves. you know you have a long night ahead of you. you are already so tired. you want to feel sorry for yourself, you really do. you want to wallow in this. it feels so good to wallow. plus, you are really good at wallowing. you want to cry and complain because clearly, you have been wronged. you deserve more than this, so much more. you think about all the ways you would have spent your anniversary together and so you wallow a little while longer. you do this until you remember. this is what marriage is. this is why you've managed to make it this far together because deep down, both of you know. this is what marriage is. it's everyday and sometimes it's ugly and boring but also intoxicating and spectacular. it's a million different things and all at once. this thing you have is beyond words, it transcends the sock-buying, the late-night worrying, the high expectations, the disappointments, the ugly days. it's bigger, broader, brighter, deeper. what you have is true.

this has not been an easy year, you think. no, this has not been the best year. the two of you still have such a long way to go but here you both are, fourteen years later. and for that, you are thankful. for the everyday, you are thankful. for marriage, you are thankful. for him, you are so thankful.

01 September 2008

hello september and welcome to duaflex monday

or in my case, argus seventy-five monday. though more accurately, through the viewfinder monday. I am jumping on karen's ship because that's a good ship, friends. plus, I love karen.

but anyway. about this through the viewfinder business. a few of you have asked and I am giddy to share. come back next monday for the sort of tutorial only a mother could love. only too happy to spill the beans though it should be said that I am by no means an expert. just someone who loves to play around with it. so, yes. next monday. because today I have some grieving to do. today is the first day of september and we all know what that means. summer, she is over. oh yes, there will be lingering signs of her here and there but you know it and I know it and even she knows it. goodbye summer, hello fall.

p.s. if you need an immediate ttv fix, see my girl karen.

p.p.s. sadly, the summer postcard swap is officially not a summer postcard swap anymore. but still a swap. and believe it or not, still happening. though you are all probably starting to wonder what is wrong with me. funny, I have been wondering that very same thing.