How to Adjust Portrait Mode Lighting on the iPhone

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Portrait mode has been making folks look great since the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus—taking great portraits has never been so easy as picking a Portrait Lighting mode and letting the iPhone work its magic. With iOS 13, Apple has added even more flexibility: you can adjust the intensity of the lighting effect applied in Portrait mode. To avoid your photo looking like a bad photoshop job, just tap the lighting intensity icon at the top of the screen and swipe on the slider left or right to tune the effect up or down. A little goes a long way! Let's get started.

Related: Express Your Selfie: Your Guide to Selfie Basics

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How to Adjust Portrait Mode Lighting on the iPhone

Note that this feature is only available on the iPhone XR, XS, 11, or 11 Pro. 

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Select Portrait mode by touching the camera modes slider below the viewfinder and sliding left or right.

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  3. In Portrait mode, a new set of lighting effects will appear just at the bottom of the viewfinder. Touch the lighting mode icon and slide left or right to select a lighting mode. The Natural Light effect only applies a background blur and no lighting effect, so I’ll demonstrate with Studio Light effect.
  4. With Studio Light selected, turn to the row of options icons at the top of the screen, above the viewfinder. Tap the light intensity icon, which looks like a dot and circle inside a six sided polygon (a regular hexagram if you’re feeling precise).

    portrait mode cameraportrait photo
     
  5. With the light intensity icon highlighted yellow, the viewfinder will slide up just a little, and the camera mode selection slider will be replaced by a light intensity slider. Touch it and slide left or right to adjust your lighting effect.
  6. You can also tap the f-stop icon at the top right of the screen—a cursive f and a number—to adjust how blurry the background is, using the same slider.

    iphone 8 portrait modedoes iphone 8 have portrait mode
     
  7. When you’re done, you can snap your picture with confidence: the Portrait Lighting effect can be tweaked or removed later in the Photos app.

Now you know how to adjust the lighting mode in your iPhone’s Portrait mode!

 
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Author Details

Cullen Thomas's picture

Author Details

Cullen Thomas

Cullen Thomas is a Writer and Producer at iPhone Life, creating tips and guides to help users unlock the full potential of their iOS and iPhone. In addition to writing countless tip-of-the-day articles and many detailed guides, Cullen has spent nine years as an instructor in media and communications at Maharishi University, lecturing on technical and artistic subjects ranging from camera and audio hardware to story-plotting to how to manage a film crew. Cullen answers questions daily about iPhones and iOS as part of the Ask an Editor insider service, and designs curriculum for iPhone Life’s online classes. As a frequent contributor to iPhone Life magazine and occasional guest on the iPhone Life podcast, Cullen likes to talk about security and privacy news, tech, gadgets, and apps, even if nobody asked.

Cullen holds a master’s degree in Cinematic Arts from the David Lynch School of Cinematic Arts. Cullen also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Maharishi University, one in literature with an emphasis in writing and the other in Communications and Media. Cullen’s short fiction has been featured in anthologies from Amphibian Press and TANSTAAFL, and Cullen co-owns a game design company, Thoughtspike games, which builds thought-provoking puzzle games. Cullen is a sci-fi author, a coffee connoisseur, and an iPhone expert.