duaflex monday: helpful hints

Happy Monday, everyone -- and for those of you in the United States, Happy Labor Day! As promised, today's my first entry for Duaflex Monday. I'm still trying to get the hang of how to use this awkward contraption, but with a little luck, perhaps I'll get better.

Several of you have asked how this works, and really it's sort of easier to show you in person; however, here's an attempt to explain how I've been using my Duaflex. Again, I'm certainly not an expert, so take what you read here, and go make it your own.

First, you'll need to purchase a twin-lens reflex camera. My friend Hula recommended the Kodak Duaflex, so that's what I got. Hula bought hers at an antique store, I think; I bought mine on eBay. Either way, you should be able to pick one up for between US$ 20-30.

These cameras have their viewfinders on the top, as opposed to on the back, like today's cameras are built. You won't actually be using the camera mechanism to take the shot, just the viewfinder -- in essence, you'll point your digital camera downward at the viewfinder of the twins lens reflex camera, and take your photograph with your digital. However, because the viewfinder will have some glare on it from the light around you, to get a really good shot, you'll have to build a tube -- one that fits snuggly around the twin-lens reflex camera, and around your digital camera's lens. Some of these tubes can be pretty elaborate, but they don't have to be: Hula built hers out of a cereal box, and tapes it to her Duaflex with painter's tape; Marcus just built a long, skinny box for me out of box a pair of boots came in, and my Duaflex just slides in and sits on the bottom of the box, with a cut-out for the Duaflex lens. I then put my Nikon lens into the top of the box, and shoot that way. Incidentally, I've found that my 60mm AF Micro Nikkor lens works best for these shots, bringing me as close to the viewfinder as possible.

Clear as mud?

Well, thankfully, there are tons of other people who can explain this better than I. Again, courtesy of Hula, check out the following:

A great article on Photojojo that explains the mechanics pretty clearly.

An article by Russ Morris, describing his process, including how he built the tube.

A Through the Viewfinder blog full of tricks, tips and beautiful images.

And for inspiration, be sure to check out the Through the Viewfinder Flickr pool.

Good luck, everyone. Once you get the hang of it, if you upload your photographs online, I'd love it if you drop me a line: I'm looking for inspiration anywhere I can get it!

Song: Love Song by Sara Bareilles

cafe brasil

This morning I had a meeting with my accountant. She lives a fair distance out of town, so when she asked me to pick a place to meet, I immediately suggested Cafe Brasil, a coffeehouse 'inside the Loop,' in the Montrose area near downtown Houston.

Brasil used to be my local haunt: there was a time, pre-Alex, pre-Marcus, pre-many-things, that you could find me there on any given day, spending hours there on weekends with friends; or alone on evenings after work (when Brasil has more of a wine-bar vibe) with a glass of red and a good book. When we returned to Houston after living in Trinidad (and we needed to buy a house with a back garden for Alex that we could afford), we moved 'outside the Loop' -- and my days of daily visits to Brasil ended.

I arrived at Brasil early today, and so had the chance to have a quick breakfast and enjoy the scene before Diane arrived. I've always loved Brasil's clientele, a weird mix of bohemian tattoo artists and musicians, Rice University professors and medical doctors. This morning I saw:

a tall, clean-cut man, with the words 'Get famous, not a job' on the back of his polo shirt;
a middle-aged woman with very short, almost-shaved hair, wearing large hoop earrings and an African-print dress; and
a very young, dark-haired woman with intricate, brightly coloured sleeve tattoos and carrying a rather expensive handbag.

I really miss Brasil, with its eclectic mix of regulars, all of whom invariably aren't what they appear to be. And as I left this morning after my meeting, I promised myself that Marcus, Alex and I needed to make an effort to come back a bit more often, even if it means only doing so on the weekends.

Song: Corcovado, as performed by Everything But The Girl

come find yourself

God, aren't you tired of me telling you I'm stressed and overworked?

Me too. But no respite yet. Soon come.

In the meantime, however, I've been thinking about something. I've continued shooting a lot for my little project, The Beauty Perspective, and I've got to tell you, I'm so pleased with how it's coming along. The women who have allowed me to take their portraits have been so generous with me, particularly when sharing their answers to the question, 'What makes your life beautiful?'. It's great seeing all the varied ways that make people's lives beautiful, and I'm really looking forward to sharing them all with you -- which, obviously, I will.

But the thing is, there's another question I've also been asking:

Who are you?

It seems like such a simple question, and yet, many people people find themselves stumped when coming up with an answer. In fact, I find myself struggling with the answer. So far, the answer that feels most right to me is:

I am a multicultural Trinidadian woman who loves her family deeply, and who is currently on a journey to living her most authentic life.

But with your permission, I'd like to ask all of you the same question: Who are you?

I hope you'll share your answers here.

Song: Come Find Yourself by Fun Lovin' Criminals


Dragonflies have been showing up around our home a lot, lately -- but they're really zippy little buggers, making them difficult to photograph. Today, however, while I was outside talking with a neighbour, one landed on a branch nearby -- and didn't move as I got close. As it happened, I had my camera with me.

* * * * * * *

During a recent e-mail exchange with my friend Kelly Rae, she sent me the following quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

'The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now'.

I've been thinking about this all day. Though I'm afraid to say this out loud for fear of jinxing things, I suspect she's right.

Song: New Beginning, by Tracey Chapman

god help you, i have a new toy

One day while I was in Oregon, all thirteen of us trouped down to the beach to take some photographs. Each of us had our cameras, and we were all shooting the beautiful scenery, as well as each other.

At one point, I glanced over at Andrea, and noticed that she had her camera aiming downward toward her feet, with its lens shoved into a makeshift cardboard tube crudely attached to a funny-looking box.

'Hula,' I said delicately, 'what in God's name are you doing?'

'It's my Duaflex,' she explained. 'Basically, I've got my digital camera looking through the viewfinder of this old Kodak Duaflex camera, and the cardboard tube keeps the light out. I can get some really interesting shots this way. You should try it.'

After talking with her a bit longer, she'd convinced me. When I returned to Houston, I logged onto eBay and bought my own Kodak Duaflex III for about US$ 30.

It arrived this weekend.

Marcus built me the requisite cardboard tube (because he's handy that way), and I took aim at a bouquet of flowers a friend sent me this past week. What you see above is one of the shots that resulted. I love the old vintage feel of the image.

And I think I might be addicted. I may have to declare Mondays 'Duaflex Mondays,' or something, just so I don't overwhelm this site with all of the images I know I'm not going to be able to help myself taking with the help of this little old camera.

Song: Tell me somethin' good, Rufus & Chaka Khan


I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who does this, but when I start to feel overwhelmed, or unfocused, or underwater, I start making lists. Lists make me feel in control, and help me spot the 'baby steps' needed to get me to a place of serenity again. And frankly? I just think they're fun to do.

Also, today, I came across the following quote at Penelope Illustration:

'Act as if you know what’s going on, as if you are divinely guided. Believe that you are always at the right place at the right time and everything you do and everything that happens is orchestrated for your higher growth.'

Dude, with my lists and that quote? There's no stopping me.

Song: Je n'peux pas te plaire, by Jonatha Brooke