The latest iPhone operating system, iOS 16, comes with a new lock screen feature. It’s a sort of layered overlay wallpaper that cuts out your subject and sticks it on top of the clock. It’s a neat visual effect – and one that’s been commonly used on magazine covers over the years – but with the iPhone, there is a trick to creating the images in order to make them work in this way.
In this video, ZY Cheng walks us through the process of how the new layered lock screen photos work and how we need to shoot and compose them in order to get the desired result. It’s a pretty straightforward process and requires no 3rd party tools or funky file formats. In fact, you can even do it with images shot using the phone’s own built-in cameras, but there is definitely a trick to it.
It’s essentially an AI-generated process. The iPhone figures out what the subject is in your photo and cuts a mask around it, blocking off a portion of the text for the time display on your lock screen. If the subject covers part of it, the subject appears on top of it. There are some caveats to the process, though, and the positioning of the subject in the frame is important.
If the subject doesn’t appear in the area of the clock at all, nothing happens and it just looks like a normal lock screen. If the subject covers too much of the time, again, it just looks like a regular lock screen wallpaper with the clock on top. In the cast of the latter, if any part of your subject goes above the halfway line on the text, the effect doesn’t happen. It also doesn’t happen if you have widgets covering your lock screen.
You don’t have to use your iPhone’s built-in cameras to shoot the photos, either. You can use any image you can get onto your phone, whether it’s something you’ve shot with a DSLR or mirrorless camera or something you might have found online. But, whatever the source of the image, you’ll need to understand how it works if you want the effect to appear.
It’s a neat effect and one that some photographers may potentially want to offer to clients as a little extra freebie as part of their package – I’ve already seen a few photographers asking how to make these for their clients on social media – or just for your own phone. And after you watch the video above, you’ll know how to make them.