Portrait mode photos, smartphone photography class

Portrait mode smartphone photography

Do you like the photo on the right? If so, do you know how to do that with your phone?

I took both photos with my iPhone 7 Plus. The one on the right used the camera setting called “Portrait” to keep the flowers in focus and blur the background. Not all phones have this feature, but many do. On your phone it may be called Lens Blur, or Live Focus. It may be something that you see as you take the photo, or it may be something you adjust after the photo is taken.

iPhone instructions

If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, or X (ten) then you have this feature. You can easily tell if you have one of those phones by looking at the camera lens. You should see two of them!

To get the Portrait effect, simply select Portrait on the camera screen. You must have a person’s face, or some other object that is clearly in the foreground of your picture, then you will see a message on the screen to move farther away, or get closer, or get more light. When the message “Depth Effect” turns gold, it’s ready to take the shot. Try it, I know you’ll like it!

PIxel XL instructions

Jim’s phone is a Pixel XL and it can take “portrait” photos as well, but it’s a completely different process. The Pixel XL only has one lens, so the depth effect is all computer generated. You still need a subject in the foreground that is distinct from the background. I chose a carved wooden candle holder from Borneo as my subject.

Lens Blur mode on Pixel XL phone

From the camera app:

  1. tap the 3-line menu and choose lens blur
  2. focus on the main subject and tap the shutter button
  3. you’ll see a message to move the phone but keep the main subject centered. It’s a very small movement, just enough to let the phone determine the boundaries of the main subject.
  4. As soon as you’ve moved it sufficiently, you’re done taking the photo
  5. When you view the photo, you should see a flower icon that is the lens blur button
    Pixel XL Lens Blur
  6. I moved the slider all the way to the right to get the effect above
  7. Tap Done
  8. Note – when you take your next photo, you may need to tap an X to get out of lens blur mode and back to normal.

Smartphone Photography class, May 25-26, Sedalia Missouri

If you don’t have an iPhone with dual lenses, or a Pixel XL, you need to explore your camera’s settings, maybe even read the manual, to discover if and how it can be done with your phone. Wouldn’t it be great to be in a class where a teacher can help you? That’s exactly what you can do if you’re coming to the 2018 Escapade RV rally in Sedalia, MO. Geeks on Tour is offering a pre-rally hands-on class for smartphone photography. It’s 6 hours long and Portrait mode is just one of the many things you’ll learn. See this page for more details.

Portrait Mode
Of course, Portrait mode is really intended for, you know … Portraits!