First, Instagram filters helped capture our nostalgia for the look of film. Now, an app called Thirty Six is here to help us embrace the simplicity and the mystery of the process itself.
Available for iPhone and iPad, the camera app Thirty Six lets users mimic the experience of using a film or disposable camera in the days of limited exposures and contact sheets. Taking pictures within the app works like a typical viewfinder, but just like in the old days you can’t check out the results of your snaps until you’ve finished your “roll” of 36 exposures or 12 4:3 square shots.
After a development process that’s about 1000 percent faster than the one-hour photo shop of yore, you’re ready to view your work on an old-school contact sheet. Simply tap to mark your selects with different color “grease pens” and add notes — no light board needed.
What happens next is decidedly more modern. Users can export their selects (or contact sheet stories) to Dropbox complete with EXIF data, upload them to social sites like Instagram, and even create little movies within the app.
Playing with Thirty Six is more than a trip down memory lane, especially for anyone who still has a couple of 400 speed cartridges rolling around in their sock drawer. It’s a chance to take a break from the unlimited nature of digital or mobile photography and reconnect with the subject matter. With more than 880 billion photos taken last year alone, we can afford to lay off the shutter and immerse ourselves in the process.