Take the Perfect Portrait

Why depth of field and lighting are so key.

Halide Mark II - Pro Camera

RAW, Manual and Macro Capture


By utilizing your Camera app’s portrait mode, you can easily create beautiful portraits of your friends and family. Its depth-of-field effect keeps subjects sharp while creating a beautifully blurred background, helping you focus on the most important part of the image: the person.

With the right app and a little technique, your portraits will look strikingly crisp.

‣ Take portrait mode one step further using the pro-level capabilities of one of our favorite photo apps: Halide.

After you’ve installed and launched the app, tap the Depth button so it turns yellow. Now you’re ready to scout a location for your shoot.

Step 1: Find the light

Keeping the sun behind our subject backlights her hair, which adds more dimension to the portrait.

‣ You’re looking for even, natural light that won’t cast harsh shadows, so head outside or position your subject near a window or lamp.

Here we had the bright afternoon sun to contend with, so we turned her away from the light. This gave us a soft, even illumination across her face—and ensured she wasn’t squinting.

Step 2: Go deep

The center icon on the bottom row turns on Halide’s portrait setting.

‣ Since you’ve already tapped the Depth button, two new buttons should have appeared on the same row. First, tap the one in the middle with the icon of a person. This enables a portrait setting. In this setting, the subject remains sharp, but the background is blurred, and lights and other highlights show up as beautiful blurs called bokeh. Combined with the sharp subject, this adds visual interest while keeping your focus on the person.

To make the bokeh effect more pronounced, increase the distance between your background and your subject. Seeing subtle differences in the blur effect can be difficult, but Halide can help you visualize this more easily: Tap the icon with three concentric circles on the far left. Your live preview will change to a black-and-white heat map of sorts.

You’ll be able to see the difference in distance between your subject (which will be a shade of white) and your background (which will be a darker shade). The greater the contrast, the more pronounced the bokeh effect will be.

When you have everything positioned as you want, tap the concentric circles again to exit this mode.

Step 3: Fire away

The bokeh effect in action.

‣ Tap on your subject to lock focus. Then swipe your finger up or down anywhere on the image to adjust the EV (exposure value) until skin tones look natural. It’s OK if the background goes a little brighter or darker than you’d like—just focus on skin tone.

Now, at last, you can begin shooting.

Don’t be shy about taking a lot of shots. (You’ll never regret having more options.) Try counting down from 3 each time you tap the shutter button. You might have your subject look down and reset between shots—it’s hard to hold a natural-looking smile for longer than a second or two.

    Halide Mark II - Pro Camera

    RAW, Manual and Macro Capture


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