Finding a decent free photo app is like crossing your neighbors yard to steal his newspaper. You have to carefully maneuver your way through a minefield of turds before you're finally able to get your greasy hands on something you really want, but didn't feel like paying for. Sure, I want to make my lackluster photo look cooler, but do I actually want to spend money to do so? If your lot in life involves writing blogs for a living, then $0.99 can be a luxury.
"Hmm, what rhymes with 'Plywerk'?"
Majority of free photo apps these days are usually just a glorified sepia filter, hiding behind an icon that looks like a camera/lens, with creative names like INSTA-this or that-a-GRAM. After downloading and deleting several apps in succession, I came across an app that looked promising, and by promising, I meant it's icon looked pretty bad ass.
BLACK has a rather straightforward premise... it transforms your colored photos into black and white images. Big deal right? Hold your horses for a minute. BLACK offers several different tools to adjust the look and feel of your image in addition to 10 different black and white filters. This is where BLACK caught my attention. How can you repackage different variations of the same thing over and over again and still keep people interested?
Just ask AC/DC
Vague music jokes aside, BLACK has a cool approach to it's multiple black and white filters. Each one is a digital recreation of well known vintage film, with each black and white filter taking it's name from the product it's referencing.
These 10 different black & white filters are referred to as "film emulators". After scrolling through all 10, while there's a slight variation in brightness/contrast between each one, it didn't really feel unique enough to warrant an entire app.
BLACK also includes 3 effects/tools. Vignette, that casts' a circular black shadow around the edge of your photo, Curves, allowing you to adjust points in your pictures tonal range, and lastly, Fade, that darkens the white in your photo. All three add the ability to slightly tweak your photo once your filter is applied.
Once I finished goofing around with all the filters and effects, I decided to finalize my image and that's where I saw this steamy load of a screen. *Sigh* Yeah, I know. Microtransactions make the world of apps go round. Even though this practice becomes more and more common place in the digital market, it doesn't make it any less annoying. For the sake of our dear readers (all 2 of them) I decided to forgo the lofty notion of eating a fancy top ramen dinner with HOT water to fork over the dollar needed to unlock these effects.
The final step in the experience allows you to transfer the image across social media/email. In closing, one important detail that should be noted is that the image is not scaled down or compressed at all, which is convenient should you desire to have it printed. Maybe on a gorgeous bamboo canvas? *WINK*WINK*
So what kind of rating does BLACK get?
BLACK is like the ugly catfish on a dating site who tastefully hides their enormous forehead, and wooden peg leg, behind a tightly cropped/highly controlled presentation that leaves you asking yourself "I paid a dollar for this?"
The style, layout, and fluidity of the app is wonderfully executed. Unfortunately the core function of the app, while somewhat novel, isn't necessarily groundbreaking when it's compared to other apps that offer the same functions, some of which are free of charge.
In closing, the entire selling point of BLACK is that the carefully analyzed film emulators pay tribute to the romance of taking old school pictures. While someone with a deeper understanding of photography would appreciate this, the average schlub won't have such a discerning eye.