If you’ve got an
iPhone 8 Plus, an
iPhone X, an
iPhone XS, or XS Max, you can access a photographic feature called Portrait Lighting (the XR has some Portrait Lighting features, but not all). We find Portrait Lighting a little inconsistent, but it can sometimes produce some attractive effects with very little effort.
Open the Camera app, and swipe across the bottom rotating menu so you’re in Portrait Mode.
Just above this label you’ll see a hexagonal icon and the label Natural Light, which indicates that you’re about to take a standard Portrait Mode shot, with the arty bokeh background blur. Very nice.
If you tap the Natural Light icon, however, it’ll pop up slightly and you’ll see it’s on a circular menu. Swipe across and you can scroll through the four other options: Studio Light, which brightens up the subject’s face and other ‘high points’ and is generally the most reliable mode; Contour Light, which darkens the shadows and sometimes produces a good effect, but often makes people look scruffy or unshaven; and two versions of Stage Light (colour and mono), which cut out the subject and place him or her against a dark background.
The Portrait Lighting effects are a little better in iOS 12, but we still find the mono modes to be a bit unreliable when it comes to curly hair.
Note that you don’t have to apply these effects while or before taking the shot. Open any photo which has the label Portrait at the top left, and you’ll be able to apply them retrospectively. Tap Edit, then tap the hexagon icon and you’ll be able to scroll through the options as above.
A new feature on the iPhone XS and XS Max allows you to adjust the blur after taking a picture.
It’s made possible by the separate of layers in photos. When we get to test out the iPhone XS we’ll fill you in on how it works.