10 Photography Resources for Film Photographers

With the Blackwing 344 out in the wild, we hope folks will feel inspired to take some old-fashioned film photographs. We posted the template for the BW 344 Pinhole Camera, but we know film can be challenging to get ahold of, so here’s a list of some of our favorite photography resources.

Places to Buy Film and Film Cassettes

Freestyle Photo

Freestyle Photo

Freestyle Photo offers film, cassettes, processing chemicals, darkroom supplies and more. They even have a full section dedicated to classic Holga cameras.

B&H Photo

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B&H is known primarily for their digital and lighting supplies, but they also have a fairly extensive selection of film cameras and supplies.

Places to Get Film Developed

Old School Photo Lab

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Old School Photo Lab offers affordable photo lab services for a wide range of formats, including 35mm, 120mm and large formats.

The Darkroom

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Whether you’re working with 35mm, 120mm, disposable cameras, large format, or developed negatives, The Darkroom has it covered.

Photographers, Resources and Guides

Eric Kim Photography

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Eric Kim has been publishing ebooks about photography since 2012. His focus is on street photography, but his blog is filled with tips and techniques for photographers of all types.

Matt Granger

matt-granger-home

Matt Granger is the perfect combination of photographer and teacher. His site is filled with online courses and videos for photographers of all experience levels.

DIY Photography

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DIY Photography offers tutorials, reviews and gear recommendations, but my favorite section is the DIY Archive.

Peta Pixel

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The Peta Pixel Inspiration page is filled with ideas to help you flex your creative muscles.

Photojojo

the-amazing-photojojo-archives

The Photojojo store is filled with tons of items that will make any photography enthusiast swoon, and their blog is top-notch too.

Bonus

Shoot Film Co.

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I’m a sucker for a good pin.

Designing the BW 344 Pinhole Camera

When we started brainstorming ideas for the Blackwing 344 subscriber bonus, we knew we wanted something that would help people reconnect with the art of photography. In the last decade, taking a picture has become almost automatic, yet photos have become more and more ephemeral. Photographs are routinely taken and deleted to free up storage space. Instagram and Facebook profiles are littered with images that will never see a frame, let alone a darkroom. Snapchat pics are gone in 24 hours.

When it comes to film, however, things are a bit more permanent and a touch more tangible. And we like that.

But, we couldn’t give all of our subscribers a camera. Or could we?

At it’s most basic form, a camera is a light-proof box with an aperture and a shutter. Pinhole cameras are the literal manifestation of this form: light-proof boxes with small, pinhole-sized apertures and manual shutters. Their simplicity means they can be built relatively easily. All we needed was the design.

PROTOTYPE 1

Pinhole Camera Design

Our resident photography nut Nick Sese immediately started sketching out ideas. There are plenty of pinhole camera templates out there, but we wanted to design something that was as straight-forward as possible. The first prototype was close, but needed a few refinements to trim the fat.

PROTOTYPE 2

Pinhole Camera Design

The second prototype got us closer to our goal. We added a sliding shutter and a simple iron sights-inspired aiming system, but we had trouble finding a winding mechanism that wasn’t overly complicated/cumbersome. So, it was back to the drawing board.

 

PROTOTYPE 3

Pinhole Camera Design

 

Prototype 3 is the design that actually made it into the subscription boxes thanks to a too-perfect-to-pass-up idea for the winding mechanism design. Initial designs made use of a paperclip and tape and were far from user friendly. But, we discovered that a Blackwing eraser fit into the winding slot on a film cassette perfectly. If we designed the camera so that there was an opening sized for a Blackwing eraser, pinhole photographers would be able to insert the eraser into the film cassette and advance the film by turning the eraser itself. So, we did.

Pinehole Camera Design

Finally, it was time to test the camera (spoiler alert, it worked!).

 

If you want to capture your own pinhole photography, you can download our camera template and see the how-to video here. You can read more about the Blackwing 344 here.

BW 344 Pinhole Camera

BW 344 Pinhole Camera

Video and text instructions for how to assemble the BW•344 Pinhole Camera included with every Blackwing 344 Volumes subscription.

Blackwing Volumes

Behind the Scenes: From Idea to Pencil

This is the first in what we hope will become a series of articles that provide a behind the scenes look into the inner workings of Blackwing. On the verge of a new release, today we are diving into the process of bringing a Blackwing Volumes edition to life.

When we started discussing the Volumes program at the end of 2014, we thought it would be a fun way to honor impactful creative legacies and help fans discover or reconnect with different creative mediums. We believe putting pencil to paper makes for a more fulfilling life and this program, like everything else we do, is aimed at getting more people to use and appreciate pencils. 

The brainstorming started well before the program even began. After prepping individually, we sat down with more ideas than any of us can remember. After several hours that involved guitars, singing, yoga mats and a few jump shots on our warehouse hoop, we emerged with a long list of blue sky ideas. We then took this list to everyone in the company to get their feedback. Once we prioritized the list, we started reaching out to potential partners.

Whenever possible, we wanted to collaborate with the subject of each edition and, in the case of individual subjects, their families or estates. And we didn’t just want permission, we wanted input on the design and story for each pencil (nowhere was this more evident than our collaboration with the Steinbecks on the Blackwing 24).

We also wanted partners who would be able to help us capture the attention of people who haven’t thought about pencils in years. In this case, the Blackwing 725 is a perfect example. We partnered with the Newport Folk Festival to make sure every musician who played last year’s fest, from the main stage headliners to the upstart songwriters, were introduced to Blackwing pencils. We also spent a week educating festival goers, making some great friends in the process.

We had the ideas and we knew what we were looking for in a partner, but we really underestimated what it would take to get from the idea to the pencil.

Once we have a design on paper, we need to see if it translates to the real world. Like any manufacturing process, this involves making a sample. But, as we quickly learned, it takes just as much work to create one sample pencil as it does to make several hundred. Most Volumes pencils take at least three or four rounds of sampling before a prototype is finalized, and there’s no guarantee the design will work at all. As a result, we’ve had to tweak some designs in order to make them work, and scrap others entirely (you should see the collection of oddities littering our HQ). 

Once we finalize a design, the sticks are shaped, painted, imprinted and shipped to our California HQ where we inspect them, and add ferrules and erasers. After another round of inspection, the pencils are packaged and then subscription boxes are assembled. Once all subscription shipments are out the door, we begin packing the remaining pencils for stores and individual resell on Blackwing602.com.

Shoutout to the shipping and fulfillment team for making all of this possible. If it weren’t for the early mornings and late nights of Mary, Mason, David and Candita, folks might still be waiting for the 725.

All of this adds up to some pretty crazy lead times. To give you an idea of what we mean by crazy, we’ve already submitted our designs for 2017 and are working to nail down 2018 and 2019. But, all of the planning and stress is worth it. Blackwing Volumes is a labor of love, and we’re excited to be able to share it with you.

Looking for more? Check out this post on the design changes introduced with the Blackwing 344.

Blackwing 602

New Imprint and Eraser Coming to Blackwing Pencils

When the Blackwing 344 hits your doorstep, you may notice a few changes. Blackwing Volumes subscribers are getting a first look at some of the design updates that are coming to all Blackwing pencils in the near future.

The first change you’ll notice is an updated Palomino logo. The thin, angular text is gone in favor of something with ties a bit closer to our company’s roots. 

Blackwing 602

The Palomino text has been updated to a sans serif typeface inspired by the handmade sans serifs of storefronts, office buildings and makers of the early 20th century. Our parent company CalCedar will celebrate its Centennial in 2017, and the new Palomino typeface is a tribute to the hardworking men and women who laid the foundation for us nearly 100 years ago.

Palomino Logo

Every Blackwing pencil is made with Genuine Incense-cedar from the forests of California and Oregon. The Incense-cedar trees found in the California Cedar Products Company logo now bridge the Palomino and Blackwing marks, just as CalCedar brought the two brands together in 2010. This new mark will begin appearing on all of our Blackwing pencils in the coming months.

The second change isn’t something you can see, but it’s something many of our customers have been asking for. The Blackwing 344 features a brand new eraser formulation that is designed to erase more cleanly, wear more evenly and leave behind less residue. These new erasers will debut alongside our new pencil imprint. 

Stay tuned to blackwing602.com/blog and follow us on Instagram for more updates down the road.