How to use the new High-Key Mono portrait lighting effect on iPhone in iOS 13

portrait lighting effect

iOS 13 brought out a new portrait lighting effect, called High-Key Mono, that boosts your iPhone photography game.

It creates an awesome look for your Portrait mode photographs by applying high-quality monochromatic processing to your subject whilst setting it against a solid white background. Because it’s very easy to use and creates a classic look, High-Key Mono can is an excellent feature, even more so if you’re looking to establish a photo’s overall mood.

This new portrait lighting effect was mentioned by Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi during the June 3 keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2019 held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

portrait lighting effect

High-Key Mono is a sixth Portrait lighting effect, joining the previous Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage Light and Stage Light Mono effects. Follow along with iDownloadBlog as we show you how to shoot portraiture photography using the High-Key Mono portrait lighting effect.

High-Key Mono requirements

Shooting with High-Key Mono is supported on all iPhone and iPad devices powered by the Apple A12 processor or better. In other words, you need an iPhone model manufactured in 2018 or later, such as iPhone XR or iPhone XS, to take advantage of this effect.

You can also edit the intensity of the High-Key Mono effect or choose a different portrait lighting effect even after the photo has been originally shot with the High-Key Mono effect. This monochromatic filter cannot be applied retroactively to your old depth-of-field photos.

portrait lighting effect
High-Key Mono requires iOS 13’s far more precise segmentation mattes.

iOS 13 also packs in a new monochromatic filter, called Stage Light Mono.

How to take photos with the High-Key Mono portrait lighting effect

You can take a photo with the High-Key Mono portrait lighting effect and a real-time effect preview in the Camera app. These computational portrait lighting effects can be easily adjusted right in the Photos app, even after the photo has been taken.

1) Open the Camera app on your iPhone XS/XR or newer with iOS 13 or later.

2) Swipe to Portrait mode.

3) Now swipe between the different lighting effects that appear in the bottom part of the viewfinder until you find High-Key Mono.

4) Snap up your photograph with a tap of the Shutter button.

A real-time preview shows you exactly how the photo will like before you snap it. The Camera app also tells you when you’re too close, too far away or if the area is too dark.

The photo is saved in the Portrait album found under the Albums tab in the Photos app.

How to adjust the High-Key Mono portrait lighting effect

iOS 13 lets you control the intensity of any Portrait lighting effect via a new slider like you can Bokeh with depth control. You can do so in the Photos app, even after the photo’s been taken.

1) Open the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 13 or later.

2) Tap the Albums tab.

3) Scroll down and tap Portrait underneath the Media Types heading.

4) Now select the Portrait mode photo that you want to change.

5) Tap Edit.

6) Using the slider right below the photo, move the virtual light closer to your subject in order to smooth their skin, sharpen the eyes and brighten facial features. Or, move the virtual light away from the subject to create a more refined look.

7) Tap Done to save the changes.

New Camera features in iOS 13

Here’s what’s new for the Camera app in iOS 13:

  • Adjust Portrait Lighting intensity: Increase the intensity of each portrait lighting effect — moving the light closer to your subject — to smooth skin, sharpen eyes and brighten facial features. Or decrease the intensity of the light — moving it away from your subject — for a subtle, refined look.
  • High-Key Mono: A new Portrait Lighting effect, High-Key Mono, creates a beautiful, classic look with a monochromatic subject on a white background.
  • Updates to Portrait Segmentation API: This API now supports skin, hair and teeth segmentation so developers can create new effects for Portrait mode photos.

New Photos features in iOS 13

And here’s what’s new in iOS 13’s Photos app.

  • All-new Photos tab: The all-new Photos tab lets you browse your photo library with different levels of curation so it’s easy to find, relive and share your photos and videos. You can view everything in All Photos, focus on your unique photos in Days, relive your significant moments in Months or rediscover your highlights in Years.
  • Auto-playing Live Photos and videos: Throughout the Photos tab, muted Live Photos and videos begin playing as you scroll, bringing your photo library to life.
  • Smart photo previews: In Days, Months and Years, photo previews are larger to help you distinguish between shots. Photos uses intelligence to find the best part of your photo in photo previews, which means you get to see the uncropped version of your photo when you tap to view it.
  • Contextual transitions: Animations and transitions keep your place in the Photos tab so you can switch between views, like Days and All Photos, without losing your place.
  • Removes similar shots and clutter: Duplicate photos, screenshots, whiteboard photos, documents and receipts are identified and hidden so you see only your best shots.
  • Significant events: Months presents your photos by events so you can rediscover the moments that matter most.
  • Event titles: The Photos tab displays the name of the location, holiday or concert performer to provide helpful context for your significant events.
  • On this Day: Years is contextual so it shows you photos taken on or around today’s date in past years.
  • Birthday mode: If you have birthdays assigned to people in your People album, the Photos tab will highlight your photos of them on their birthday.
  • Zoom in and zoom out: Browse the All Photos section however you like. Zoom in for a closer look or zoom out to quickly scan through your library and see all your shots at once.
  • Screen recordings smart album: All your new screen recordings are now in one place.
  • Search enhancements: You can combine multiple search terms — like “beach” and “selfies” — without tapping each word in search.
  • Music for Memories: Soundtracks for Memory movies are selected based on what you listen to in the Music app.
  • Extended Live Photos playback: When you press and hold to play a Live Photo, Photos will automatically extend the video when you have Live Photos taken within 1.5 seconds of each other.
  • Preview intensity: As you apply an edit, each adjustment displays its intensity so you can see at a glance which effects have been increased or decreased.
  • Individually review each effect: Tap each effect icon to see what your photo looked like before and after the effect was applied.
  • Filter control: Control the intensity of any filter, like Vivid or Noir, to fine-tune your look.
  • Enhance control: Enhance now lets you control the intensity of your automatic adjustments. As you increase or decrease Enhance, you’ll see other adjustments — including Exposure, Brilliance, Highlights, Shadows, Contrast, Brightness, Black Point, Saturation and Vibrance — intelligently change with it.
  • Video editing support: Nearly everything you can do with a photo you can now do with a video. Adjustments, filters and crop support video editing so you can rotate, increase exposure or even apply filters to your videos. Video editing supports all video formats captured on iPhone, including video in 4K at 60 fps and slo-mo in 1080p at 240 fps.
  • Nondestructive video edits: Video edits are now nondestructive so you can remove an effect like a filter or undo a trim to return to your original video.
  • Vibrance: Boost muted colors to make your photo less rich without affecting skin tones and saturated colors.
  • White Balance: Balance the warmth of an image by adjusting temperature (blue to yellow) and tint (green to magenta).
  • Sharpen: Change photos by making edges crisper and better defined.
  • Definition: Increase image clarity by adjusting the definition slider.
  • Noise reduction: Reduce or eliminate noise such as graininess or speckles in photos.
  • Vignette: Add shading to the edges of your photo to highlight a powerful moment using Strength, Radius and Falloff.
  • Updates to auto adjustments: Straighten, crop and adjust the perspective of your photos automatically.
  • Pinch-to-zoom support: You can pinch to zoom while editing to review your changes on a specific area of your photo.
  • Image Capture API: The Image Capture API allows developers to leverage the Camera Connection Kit to import photos directly into their apps.

iOS 13 compatibility

iOS 13 is compatible with the following Apple smartphone models:

  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

For more information, read Apple’s press release or visit

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iPadOS compatibility

iPadOS is compatible with these iPads:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

Watch our video overview of the new iPad-only updates embedded below.

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For more, read Apple’s press release or visit

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