Modern technology has all but rendered physical darkrooms irrelevant. Instead of dodging and burning light onto photographic paper using a round piece of cardboard taped to a spare piece of wire, we dodge and burn using an infinitely customizable brush on the pixels of our high-resolution LED displays.
Darkrooms might never be as popular as they were in days past, but a new app is looking to bring a little bit of the darkroom feel into our digital world. It’s called Darkr, and it appears to be a newer version of Analogue, a previous app from the same developer, Marcus Carlson.
Unlike other analog-inspired applications, Darkr takes editing to the next level by taking a step back. Rather than overlaying a preset, which can be controlled with sliders and numbers, Darkr lets you simulate the process of exposing an image on photographic paper, complete with test strips, dodging and burning, cropping, blurring, toning, and other effects taken directly from the days of darkrooms.
Beyond editing, Darkr features an integrated camera designed to replicate the experience of shooting with large-format cameras. The image is upside-down and there’s no zoom. Like the days of wet plate photography, the camera will force you to slow down and immerse yourself in the photography more deeply than can be done with most digital interfaces.
After taking the app for a spin, I can say that of the hundreds of photography apps I’ve used, Darkr is hands-down one of the most unique and inspirational that I’ve come across. It blurs the lines between digital and analog and brings back memories of hours spent locked away in the darkroom during high school photography class.
Darkr is free to download and comes with a broad range of editing options. For extra camera modes, the ability to edit in layers, and extra editing tools, in-app purchases are available for between one and three dollars.
To download Darkr, head on over to the iOS App Store. It works on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices running iOS 8.1 or higher.