This hour takes me back
Published (updated: ) in photography.
1 Hour Photo is a new-ish camera app from Nevercenter, the people who make much more feature-rich camera apps like Camerabag.
It’s different, though, because it has hardly any features at all. Here’s how it works:
- you take a photo
- it applies a rather nice black-and-white filter
- an hour later, it saves it to your phone’s Camera Roll
Crucially, you don’t get to see the photo until the hour’s up.
So it’s a little bit like using a film camera back in the old days, except the waiting part has been kept as short as it ever got then: one hour. You could, if you were desperate and you didn’t mind paying a fortune, take your newly completed roll of film into Boots and get it developed on the spot in one of their huge developing machines.
The quality wasn’t that great, and sometimes the photos were still a tiny bit sticky because they’d not finished drying yet. But on the plus side, you had your photos, and you’d only had to spend one hour mooching around WH Smiths and Debenhams while you waited. Bloody brilliant.
I thought the hour’s wait would be this app’s only trick, but no: the filtering is an unexpected treat. It’s nice filtering. I don’t know enough about black and white photography to discuss it with any flair, or to make any judgement about the results at the artistic level, but I know that they look nice. Better than quite a lot of black-and-white filters I’ve seen in other apps, including all the ones that don’t have built-in retro time-shifting gimmicks.
An hour doesn’t sound like very long, but I’ve found that it’s long enough for you to have forgotten that you took a photo. When the notification pops up, I’m always taken by surprise. “Oh! I took a photo! I’d forgotten all about that. I wonder how it came out.”
Which of course, makes me scurry to my Camera Roll to see the results.
It’s that phrase, “I wonder how it came out,” that gives this app its nostalgic feel. That was the feeling you used to get as you trudged through the rain to Boots to collect your prints: you knew there’d be a lot of rubbish, but you also knew there’d be one or two keepers from each roll of film. This app recreates those sensations. Acceptance that most photos are rubbish, and delight when you get a really nice one.