How to Adjust Photo Lighting with Google Photos on Pixel

The Portrait Light function used on the portrait of a man in Google Photos.

Lighting is arguably the most important ingredient in taking a good photo. If you have a Pixel phone, you can fix the lighting after the fact with a feature in Google Photos called Portrait Light.

Portrait Light is exclusive to Pixel phones, starting with the Google Pixel 2 and newer. It allows you to change the location of the light source if the original photo is missing. It is easy to use and surprisingly efficient.

A darker portrait of a male and a lighter one after using the Portrait Light function.
Before using Portrait Light (left) and after (right).

This feature is specially designed for photos of people and will not appear as an option for images of pets or the like. Make sure the Google Photos app is up to date before using it.

To get started, open the “Google Photos” app on your Pixel phone and find a photo that could use a lighting setting. We have found that Portrait Light works best on selfies.

Next, tap on the Edit icon on the bottom toolbar.

Tap the edit icon.

Swipe your finger from the right on the bottom row, then press “Adjust.”

If you can use it on that particular image, “Portrait Light” will be an option in the adjustment toolbar; press it.

A circular handle will float above the photo, indicating where the light source is located. Simply drag the circle around the image to adjust the lighting.

Drag the circle to where you want it to adjust the lighting of an image.

Below the photo, you can also drag the slider to adjust the brightness of the lighting.

Drag the slider to adjust the brightness of the lighting in an image.

Press “Auto” to move the lighting to a position that matches the original photo if you want to adjust the brightest from there.

When you are satisfied with the lighting, press “Done” to continue.

Finally, press “Save Copy” to save your changes.

Portrait light can have a pretty noticeable effect on low-light images. It is a powerful tool that can help you get the most out of your smartphone camera.

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