Creating Background Blur
with Your iPhone
In the past, the iPhone camera hasn’t
allowed you to have any control over
the depth of field in your photos. You’ve
mostly just had the option to have everything in focus—unless your main
subject was very close to the lens, in
which case the background would appear blurred. But with Portrait mode on
the iPhone, you can choose what’s in
focus and what isn’t (figure 3).
While Portrait mode is perfect for
shooting photos of people and animals,
it can actually be used to blur the background behind any subject (figure 4).
Many things look better when placed
in front of a soft, dreamy background—
especially if that background would distract the viewer from the main subject.
How to Use iPhone Portrait
Creating a shallow depth of field with
Portrait mode is easy. Start by opening
the native Camera app and then swip-
ing through the shooting modes (Video,
Photo, etc.) until Portrait is highlighted
The first thing you’ll notice when
you switch to Portrait mode is that
everything gets bigger. That’s because
the camera automatically switches
over to the iPhone’s telephoto lens.
The telephoto lens typically creates
more flattering portrait photos than the
wide-angle lens which can distort facial
features. You’ll also notice the words
Depth Effect appear at the bottom of
the screen. Your phone will help you
by giving on-screen instructions if you
haven’t framed the image optimally.
For example, you might see the words
“Move farther away” or “More light
Once you’re the right distance from
your subject, the words Depth Effect
will be highlighted in yellow. You’ll also
see four yellow crop marks, roughly
indicating the face of your subject.
You’re now ready to shoot, so tap the
shutter button to take your photo. After
taking the picture, you’ll notice that two
versions of the image appear in the
Photos app. One image will have the
Depth Effect (figure 6) and the other
won’t (figure 5).
Comparing these two versions of the
image really shows how much nicer
a portrait photo looks when it has a
shallow depth of field. If for some reason you’re not sure which of the two
photos had the Depth Effect, it will be
clearly labeled in your photo library like
so (figure 7).
Tips for Creating Great
When shooting in Portrait mode, it’s
important to consider your background
as well as your subject. The type of
background you shoot against and how
far it is from your subject will have a big
impact on the final image.
The Depth Effect works best when
your subject is far away from the background. The further away the subject is
from the background, the more pleasant blur you’ll get. Note the difference
in the amount of background blur between the two images in figure 8.