iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR photography tips and tricks

The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR refine the mobile experience Apple created with last year's iPhone X.

With Diwali just around the bend, photographs to cherish the special moments are on everyone’s agenda. The iPhone XS/XS Max and the iPhone XR, the two latest additions in Apple’s line-ups boast some stellar cameras. What way to make Diwali a little better than by employing these tricks to get the best out of your new iPhones.

iPhone XS Max

Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have Portrait Mode on the front and rear cameras. To use Portrait Mode, open the camera and swipe the menu slider left until you see Portrait. You’ll see a carousel appear with different lighting options such as Natural Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, Natural Light, and more. Select your desired option and press the shutter button. If you want to use the front-facing camera, just tap the camera rotate icon to the right of the shutter button.
With Depth Control you can control the amount of blur in the background after you’ve taken the photo.

Photographer: Varun Aditya


  • The iPhone XS Max has a 12-megapixel dual-lens camera. This consists of a wide angle lens and 2x telephoto lens. Both lenses have optical image stabilisation. This makes it easier to capture shake-free photos in low light.
  • If you want to capture the beautiful diyas and twinkling fairy lights that are lighting up your home, you will need to keep your iPhone extremely steady so that you can capture all the sharp details of these lights. Place the iPhone XS Max in a stationary position to avoid blur/shaky images. You can also use the timer function while the camera or phone is stationed, to prevent it from shaking right after you click. For a proper professional looking output, place your subject in good light and choose a subtle dark background.
  • One of the most exciting new camera features is the advanced Portrait mode. This updated feature now lets you adjust the depth of field in your photos. This means you can control how blurred the background appears. Portrait mode works like magic when you have more light in the background especially with fairy lights. Start by making sure that your subject is no more than eight feet away. Make sure they’re no closer than two. It beautifully meters the scene by giving you the professional looking bokeh with proper logic depending on the background you choose. Choose colourful background for better images.
  • Depth Control is a major breakthrough that gives you DSLR-like control over your iPhone camera. And the best thing about it is that you can change the depth of field after taking your photo. When you’ve taken a picture using Portrait mode, open it in the Photos app, and tap Edit. The Depth slider lets you adjust the depth of field, from f/1.4 to f/1.6.
  • Smart HDR allows you to capture stunning HDR photos of moving subjects. The subject will appear sharp, with no ghosting effect. And the image will be well lit throughout, with detail and colour in the shadows and highlights. This new feature works by taking many photos at different exposures. The camera’s software analyses the images and creates a seamlessly blended HDR photo.
  • Compose your image in advance. This means you should have a rough idea of where fireworks will be visible in the sky
  • Play With the exposure. iPhoneXS Max camera is the fastest there is and the best ever in light metering. Fireworks at night is actually bright and the background is going to be dark naturally. So getting a magical photograph with colours and light with dark background is not really hard! Here’s how it is:
  • Just tap focus the bright area of any subject and try underexposing by sliding down on the screen and just click Burst mode which allows you to fire off about ten shots per second or by tapping the shutter button fast as possible. To activate burst mode, press and hold the shutter button. Your iPhone will keep taking photos until you let go. Touch holding the shutter button.
  • Do no forget to turn on the Live Mode! It is such a magical feature where you cannot miss any moment. The Live Photo feature is also great for photographing moving objects. It allows you to really capture the movement in a scene. A Live Photo actually records 1.5 seconds before and after you press the shutter. So make sure that you keep the camera still for a few moments before actually hitting the button. Once you’ve taken your Live Photo, you can still have a bit more fun. Find your Live Photo in the Photos app. Then swipe up to open the Effects panel. You’ll see four options: Live, Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. Try Light Painting with your iPhone. You need to buy a little mobile phone tripod for this. Place your phone on the tripod, photograph the moving fireworks and try using the Long Exposure from the effects panel. Always anticipate the pace of the firework to capture it at the right moment and remember to keep your flash switched off. Take a picture with a beautifully lit space as a backdrop or strike the perfect pose just before you burst the firecrackers.
  • Avoid using flash. The first tip is to ensure that you use the available lighting to allow the phone’s sensor to gather as much information as possible. Position your iPhone as such that you can use the light as a source and then capture the required subject. Stop using flash in case of capturing lights or diyas as that becomes counter-intuitive. So as mentioned above, try to use the actual light as a source instead of using the artificial illumination. Having said that, if you’re capturing something in the indoors, and there’s no light, then flash definitely will come in handy.
  • Diwali is also all about meeting and greeting people and this definitely calls for some selfies. Use the improved Portrait mode on the front camera; find a colourful background to nail a perfect selfie with beautiful blur in the background. To capture the true festive feeling, you need to shoot them with all the decorations and lighting in the background. For such outdoor pictures, find a place with more lights around then find a background which is either dark or with colours and lights. Do not forget to underexpose to gain more shutter speed which will help you take good pictures of people bursting crackers or just enjoying the festival against a background that's fully lit-up. You can also try using flash to light up faces while the bright lights are behind the subject. But again remember, composition is everything and choosing the right background is very important. Try composing in such a way so that background enhances your shots.
  • The new faster image sensor allows you to shoot better quality videos on the iPhone XS and XR models. You can capture amazing colour and detail, even in low light. And the iPhone XS models have four microphones, allowing you to record stereo sound.

iPhone XR

With the new LCD display, Smart HDR, and Single Lens Portrait Mode, there’s been a lot to check out.

Photographer: Siddhartha Joshi


  • It’s a much bigger field of view and that really helps in composing the shot
  • Toggle between the different Portrait lighting modes to see how the image will look.
  • The camera sensor features deeper, larger pixels. Deeper to improve image fidelity. And larger to allow more light to hit the sensor. The result? Even better low‑light photos.
  • The camera is focused on portraits of people, and it’s also really quick with finding faces and locking on them. This makes clicking portraits of people faster and a joy with the device.
  • Find A Portrait Background that makes the subject pop. Portrait photography isn’t just about having a great subject. It’s also about having a great background. Also, make sure that your subject wears colours that are different from the surrounding elements. Otherwise, your subject will blend into the background.
  • You need to compose carefully. Composition refers to the placement of elements in an image. When framing or composing your shot, keep in mind that you don’t need to centre your subject. Another composition tip is to frame your subject. Do this by using a natural frame such as a doorway or window. If you’re photographing outdoors, look for trees or bushes. Then place your subject inside them.
  • 4K video and wider stereo playback. iPhone XR shoots the highest‑quality video of any smartphone. With better low‑light performance. Extended dynamic range in videos up to 30fps stereo recording and stereo playback with wider sound separation.


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