This new iPhone app helps me take nostalgic photos like it’s the 1980s. “mood.camera” simulates the feeling of taking photographs with a film camera.

This new iPhone app is helping me take nostalgic photos like it's the 1980s

I love looking through my parents’ photo albums. My dad, like many dads, looks completely absent from my childhood, but in reality he was always behind his Olympus 0M30, not in front of it. He wouldn’t call himself the most accomplished photographer, but what stands out about these 1980s-era photographs is the sense of depth and storytelling.

There’s a good chance I’m just feeling nostalgic and sentimental, but I’m pretty sure a lot of those feelings have to do with flowers. Many of my childhood photographs are either black and white or, as I would say, candy-colored. There is a fair amount of chromatic aberration and galting, and blacks are too washed out. Looking at them, I am filled with a feeling of optimism and hope, as if the world has become a better place. I know it’s not true, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling it.

 

This new iPhone app is helping me take nostalgic photos like it's the 1980s

In many ways we have lost this. Since so many photos are taken on our cell phones every day and very few of them ever make it into printed form, we settle for sub-standard photos. They may report facts, but they rarely move us. I have three children and I photograph them all the time. The photographs document their lives, but they don’t move me the way traditional films do. I wanted to bring that feeling back, and I did, armed with a great little app called mood.camera .

mood. price and camera availability

Mood.camera is only available on the iOS store for a free 7-day trial, after which you’ll need to purchase the app to continue using it, starting at $4.99/£4.99.

This is new to the App Store and at the time of writing is only available to Apple users. The creator’s vision is to recreate the look of the film, achieved using a custom ProRAW image processing pipeline (iPhone Pro 12 or later) that provides a higher level of color grading than is typically possible.

Image 1 of 2: Color emulation version (Image credit: Future)Original version (Image credit: Future)

The app itself is incredibly simple. In fact, this is one of the most important selling points. The camera view is limited to a smaller portion of the screen, giving space and clarity to all the buttons that provide functionality. This channel even has curved corners to give it a movie feel, and the interface colors are black and orange, giving it a retro feel.

Much of the nostalgia is created through the imitation of color. You could call them filters, although the ability to customize the quality and tone of each gives a welcome level of customization not found in apps like Instagram.

 

This new iPhone app is helping me take nostalgic photos like it's the 1980s

With 15 options to choose from, you’re sure to find a style you just can’t resist. I was blown away by the Noir emulation with 400 quality and tone suppression. My kids loved seeing themselves in black and white and for me it adds a depth of story to the photo. Perhaps you are shouting at the screen: “This is all possible now. Just use a photo editing app.” I get that, but there’s something about having it in an app, and it certainly helps that these emulations are so ridiculously great.

Another way the app replicates the camera experience is by not applying emulation until the photo is taken. Depending on your age, you remember the days when you had to go to the store to get your film developed. Days or weeks could pass between taking photographs and developing them. You had no idea whether you forgot to remove the lens cap or not and just hoped the photos would turn out good. The experience is not exactly the same; after all, you only have to wait a few seconds to see the result of the color adjustment. But not being able to see it live on air creates a nice level of drama and suspense.

Image 1 of 2. Color emulation version (Image credit: Future)Original version (Image credit: Future)

This app has really brought the joy back into taking photos on my phone. When I want to take a photograph, I now use my creativity to think about the look and feel I want rather than just capturing events so I have a record. I also take fewer photos, but with more thought and much better final quality. If you’ve lost the joy of life when it comes to capturing special moments around you, why not try Mood.camera?

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