World TTV Day is this Saturday Feb 17th. Photographers are encouraged to take their two cameras out and go TTV crazy for 24 hours in their area. But what is TTV? And what does it have to do with Birmingham?
© harri b
Through the Viewfinder is a photography technique that started to gain popularity on Flickr last year. At its most basic it involves pointing one camera through the viewfinder of another to produce an image that is slightly different to the norm. The most common setup is a digital camera on the top and a vintage twin-lens box camera on the bottom, usually a Kodak Duaflex from the 1950s which can be picked up fairly cheaply on eBay. The images are then cropped to the dimensions of the viewfinder and often cross-processed to give an otherworldly feel to the already warped image. TTV aficionados will usually build their own light shield, known as a contraption or ‘trap, bringing another creative aspect to the art. These can be as simple as a cardboard tube taped to the Duaflex or something much much more. A selection of traps can be found in this thread and here’s mine. Yes, I’m a TTV addict.
Walsall based photographer and musician Harri B was the first person in the region to get the TTV bug and brought his contraption to a Flickrmeet last summer where it was met with bemusement and then great enthusiasm when the results were posted. There are now, by my count, eight TTVers in the region. Clicking on the following images will take you to more of their photos.
Some dabble in the technique and move on while others, like myself, get seriously hooked. But TTV is only one facet of the experimental photography going on in Birmingham. Folk are building their own cameras from scratch, using extremely expired film, playing with broken or toy cameras or just pushing the boundaries where they find them. Some of this activity can been found in the West Midlands Hard Core Flickr group but that only scratches the surface. In more fanciful moments I like to think this sort of thing reflects the “Art and Industry” motif of the Birmingham Coat of Arms – building stuff and making art with it.