Capturing the magic of a snowfall on camera is challenging, and it never turns out quite as good as the real thing. Stationary snow, suspended in the air, just isn’t the same as the beauty of snow spiralling down from the sky.
I have been using Lightroom brush tools to add snow to photos for a while now. When I set out to actually make it snow in a photo… I thought it was going to mean animating each individual snowflake.
It’s way easier than you think: no Lightroom, Photoshop, or editing experience required!
Here’s how to get the magical snowing effect that will bring your photos to life (and a few extra tips on what else these tools can do!
How to Add Snow Animation to Your Photos
1. Take a regular photo when it’s not snowing.
This is important! When you add snow to your photo, you want it to be consistent. If it’s actually snowing in a way that doesn’t match the effect, it’s going to look funny.
Want to be in your photo? Pose as if you’re being showered with a wonderful, fluffy snowfall!
I think that this method for adding snowfall looks best on nighttime photos, too! The snow is more visible against a blue/ black/ purple background than a daytime, winter white sky.
Here’s my initial photo:
2. Download the app
The snow animation is an overlay added in an app called Enlight Pixaloop. And, this app can do a lot more than just snow!
The app is free, but some effects and overlays are paid. There is a light, large snowfall effects available for free. The one in this example, which is a heavier and much more realistic snowfall, is only available with the paid subscription.
However, you can upload your photos and demo all the different effects without paying!
This lets you decide if it’s worth doing, you just won’t be able to apply it, make edits, or export a copy. If you want to see what it looks like to decide if you want the subscription though, you can do that. (It’s 4.99/ month or $25/ year. If you think you’ll only use it a few times, just add effects to all your photos at once, export, then cancel.)
3. Add an overlay.
Once you have the app, start a new project.
- Tap the images icon in the top left to choose a photo or upload a new one. This is where all your projects will be.
- Choose your photo.
- There will be a row of options along the bottom of the display. Choose “Overlay.”
- Play with different overlays! WT03 is my favourite for snow for portraits. Having a subject standing about 2 meters from the camera will look best with this overlay.
- Apply WT06 or WT07 for landscapes.
- Play back using the play button in the bottom right.
4. Customize Your Snowfall
Change the density and opacity of the snow
There’s an orange slide bar along the bottom of the photo while you’re in the Overlay section.
- Slide to the left to reduce the opacity and density of the snow, and to the right to increase it.
Change where the snow falls.
Want to add snow in just one area of the photo? Maybe there’s an object or space in your photo where it doesn’t make sense for snow to be falling, or you want snow in just one place like through a window.
Within Overlay, tap the eraser on the bottom right corner of your project. Drag the eraser anywhere in the photo, and the snow will be removed from just that place! Add it back using the paintbrush, which is above the eraser.
This is great for adding snow outside a window!
5. Export and upload.
The last step is to save your work! Tap the box with the up arrow in the top right corner to access the export options.
It’s possible to share your creation directly to Instagram, but this restricts you to a square animation for your feed, or a vertical animation for stories.
I like vertical! If you prefer to share a vertical image too, save in a 3:4 format under Video. The auto-duration of 6 seconds is lots!
When you’re ready to upload your snow animation to Instagram, just go through the normal procedure for uploading a post. Your snow animation will be in Videos on your camera roll.
Upload the vertical version by taping the symbol with two small arrows in it on the bottom left corner of your post once you can see it in preview (before you press next).
What else can you animate?
Turns out – so many things! Here are some of my favourites:
- Overlays: add rain, rolling fog, magical sparkles.
- Sky: change the sky in any photo. The skies available in Enlight Pixaloop are animated to have moving clouds.
- Animate: add specific movements or animations to any part of your photo with the tools in Animate.