It’s been years since the first smartphone with portrait mode came out — you know, our smartphone camera’s ability to distinguish between the subject and background, and blur the latter. The feature, if done right, makes photos look like they were taken with a professional camera.
While die-hards would argue that Google’s Pixel phones have perfected this technology thanks to a combination of hardware, software, and AI magic, my experience says otherwise. No phone, no matter the number of lenses, price, brand, or specs, has been able to accurately cut my hair out against any background the way a real camera does.
So what’s a girl got to do to get great-looking photos even if she doesn’t have a DSLR? I’ll let you in on my secret: I add a foreground element.
Forget portrait mode
If you want to add depth to your photos, forget portrait mode. The trial and error you have to endure is really not worth it especially when you’re traveling and would rather just live in the moment. By simply bringing any object closer to your smartphone lens, you can add depth even to an otherwise flat or boring photo.
This also works really well when you have a background that’s too beautiful to be blurred out — you’re going to want to use a wide angle lens if your phone has one. When the background has so much character, it’s a shame not to show it off.
Frame your subject in between objects
The great thing about adding a foreground element is you don’t need an expensive lens to achieve the image and narrative you’re going for.
Even if your smartphone only has a single camera, you’ll only ever need another object to frame your shot — this can be a wall, a fence, a drinking glass, leaves, or flowers.
It works with food and other subjects
Portrait mode, most often than not, works only with human subjects. Even if it does work with your cute pupper, it’s still going to be a hit or miss. The beauty of a foreground element is it works consistently no matter your subject — a friend, a building, or even your lunch.
Add a narrative to your photo
When you use an appropriate foreground, you get to add another layer to your photo’s story. Adding palm leaves to an indoor shot for example, adds a dramatic summer vibe to it.
Use it sparingly
As with anything, do this in moderation. Some photos are better off without a foreground element — the same way not all photos should be taken with portrait mode on.
Try this simple trick on your next trip and share with us your favorite shots with a foreground element by leaving a comment below.
The Mi TV P1 is a great first TV
A good self reward
I still vaguely remember the first TV I ever bought. It was, if I recall correctly, a 24-inch Samsung TV. That was already a big deal for me at the time. I just landed a producer job at an online news outlet and got my first major salary bump. As someone who enjoyed watching TV shows and movies, I thought I’d treat myself by graduating from watching on a laptop.
The TV wasn’t anything crazy. It wasn’t smart either. At the time, Smart TVs weren’t as prevalent as they are today and it would have cost maybe two months worth of my salary then. But this TV I bought had what I needed. It can read from flash drives and external hard drives, and it has an HDMI port. That thing cost me somewhere between PhP 15,000 to PhP 18,000.
Fast forward to today, I would have been able to afford a pretty big screen 4K TV now with that money. Specifically, the Xiaomi Mi TV P1. Here are the price ranges for its various sizes:
- 55″ — PhP 24,990
- 50″ — PhP 22,990
- 43″ — PhP 18,990
The same TV line also has a 32-inch variant at PhP 10,990 but it isn’t 4K so I excluded it from the list. By these standards, I would have been able to afford the 43-incher. Or perhaps, I would have opted to save up a little more to grab either of the 50-inch or 55-inch variants.
But even the 43-incher is already worlds better than what I had bought back then. I’m sure it’s a fantastic option for most people today. We already have an extensive review of the Mi TV P1. But indulge me in this little piece to share why I think it’s a great first TV.
Elevate your entertainment
One of my primary considerations for buying a TV was to give my laptop (and perhaps it’s a smartphone now for most people today) a break. I think it goes a long way to prolonging your laptop’s lifespan if after a long day of work, you’re not pushing it further to watch a few episodes of your favorite series.
At the time I was religiously following TV series like Suits, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, and many, many more. It was my way to unwind and destress at night. The kind of shows or content we watch has shifted a little to more K-Dramas and plenty of YouTube creators. But whatever you choose to watch to unwind, it’s almost always better on a TV.
The UHD screen on the Mi TV P1 is no joke. It even looks good even in brightly lit rooms. You can also tweak the settings to get the kind of picture that your eyes find pleasing. My personal settings lean towards a vivid picture quality but not too much that it compromises the cinematic integrity of what I’m watching.
It’s just an overall treat to your eyes. And watching shows and movies just feels more natural this way.
Encourages legitimate streaming
Let’s face it, we didn’t always access our favorite shows from legitimate sources. Owning a Smart TV discourages that old behavior. The ease of access to streaming sites like Netflix, HBO Go, and Viu is near frictionless. And there are a variety of subscription plans that fit your needs.
You can even be creative with your streaming budget. You can rotate among these apps every month or so. You’ll just have to plan which shows you want to watch, and line them up to when you want to watch. What I do is I have Netflix on retainer so I always have it, then month-to-month I switch between HBO Go and Viu. It just depends on where the shows I want to watch are.
It’s so much easier to fire up the TV, hit a streaming app, and watch away vs having to acquire shows in less than ideal means.
What’s more, you can install ExpressVPN directly on the TV. With it you can change regions and gain access to content and apps you otherwise would not have access to. If you’re worried about the subscription fee, there’s a nice offer here.
Home entertainment centerpiece
Looking back, I really wish the Mi TV P1 was already available when I made my first TV purchase. I’m constantly fascinated by how much of what was then considered high-end tech is now available to more people.
What Xiaomi has here is pretty much more of the same of what they usually offer — a product with a fantastic price-to-performance ratio. The Mi TV P1 is no premium TV, but I’d argue it’s the best value for money you can get.
If you’re looking to splurge a little on a big ticket item, the Mi TV P1 is an easy recommendation. If I were back in my situation as a young professional looking to reward myself, this is certainly it.
5 ways to enjoy Huawei’s MatePad gift bundles
There’s plenty to do!
Tablets are always a convenient tool for users to enjoy, whether they’re looking for entertainment or simply unwinding.
As the holiday season is fast-approaching, Huawei is offering customers gift bundles for its MatePad tablet series for them to score exciting promos while saving on huge freebies.
Whether it’s a gift for yourself, an early Christmas gift, or an investment for the next year, the Huawei gift bundles campaign includes everything from budget tablets to premium ones to help grant those wishes.
Five ways to enjoy
With more than 141,000 apps available on AppGallery, users can unlock new ways to be entertained and inspired at their fingertips especially nowadays with safety guidelines outside still in place.
As the year winds down, here are five ways to begin a new journey in 2022 with the HUAWEI MatePad series:
1. Reconnect with your loved ones online
Stay connected to your friends and family over the holidays with a variety of essential social media platforms ready for download on AppGallery and Petal Search.
That includes WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Tiktok, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter!
2. Catch a movie marathon
Whether it means staying up to date with local dramas on MeWatch or catching the latest blockbusters on HBO Go, keep your serotonin flowing with the immersive displays and sound systems tuned by Harmon Kardon on the Huawei MatePad tablets.
Apps that you could consider include HUAWEI Video, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and Twitch so you don’t miss out on safe and sound Christmas bonding sessions at home.
3. Maximize productivity
With apps like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Office, Teams, and Outlook at your disposal, staying productive amidst the Christmas rush is a breeze.
You can also keep an eye on your kid’s tablet use with a smart monitoring solution like Plano or amp your multi-tasking game with Huawei’s multi-window and multi-screen collaboration feature on the tablets.
4. Explore your creative side
With infinite possibilities on a digital canvas, you don’t have to worry about paper wastage or harming the environment.
Whether you’re a pro or just starting to find your inner artist, the Huawei M-Pencil gives a realistic drawing experience equipped with pixel-level precision.
Take a stroke of faith with Nebo, ibisPaint X, Concepts available from AppGallery.
5. Find your flow with journaling
The world can get a little noisy at times. Take a moment to disconnect and develop a calmer mind through journaling with suggested apps like Journey, Grid Diary, and Calm.
Gift bundles to choose from
Huawei has four packages available depending on what plans you have for a tablet. All deals include a free gift bundle worth as much as SG$ 396.
|MatePad model||Retail price||Free gift bundle||Best for|
|HUAWEI MatePad||SGSG$ 448
(U.P. SGSG$ 498)
Get it for only SG$ 398 during the Lazada Huawei Brand Sale from October 26 to 28
|Smart Magnetic Keyboard worth SG$ 148||Families looking for a
for work and for fun.
Includes a Kirin 820
chipset, Wi-Fi 6 and
|HUAWEI MatePad 11||SG$ 698||Worth SG$ 346:
||Young adults and
students looking for a
Includes a 120 Hz
refresh rate for a
experience and a DCI –
P3 colour gamut
|HUAWEI MatePad Pro 10.8”||SG$ 998||Worth SG$ 254:
productivity machine at
home, school, or the
Includes 10.8 inch 2K
Display with a 4.9mm
ultra slim bezel body.
Up to 11 hours of
|HUAWEI MatePad Pro 12.6”||SG$ 1,398||Worth SG$ 396:
Features a powerful
capacity and a large
12.6 inch OLED
Pricing and availability
The promotion will run from October 26 to November 30, 2021 and will be available at all Huawei Authorized Stores, selected consumer electronic stores including Best Denki, Challenger & Hachi.tech, COURTS, Gain City, Harvey Norman, Sprint-Cass, and Huawei official online stores in Lazada and Shopee.
Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro Unboxing
The best Pixel yet?
After a series of leaks from many months ago, Google has finally unveiled the newest Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to the public (take note of the new ‘Pro’ branding instead of ‘XL’ from the Pixel 4 series).
If you’ve been a long-time Pixel follower, you’d know it’s the biggest Pixel redesign ever. From the modern look and feel, to that new horizontal camera strip. Everything went north from the Pixel 5’s less remarkable design language.
Without further ado, here’s our Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro unboxing in Sorta Seafoam and Cloudy White colorways.
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