Simple Tips For Editing Snow Photos On Your Phone

We got caught in a big snow storm in Virginia this week, and while it was kind of a nightmare to get the RV out of, our kids had such a fun time playing in the GIANT snowflakes. (I’ve never seen them so big and fluffy!)

I remember the first time I took photos of my son in the snow years ago, I was so disappointed that they didn’t look as bright and crisp as I was seeing with my own eyes. But I had no idea how, nor the tools to fix that so they just remained gray and dim. 

Now, I know exactly how to use my favorite apps to make our snow photos look bright and happy, and I’m going to show you how I edited this one, and how you can use these same steps on your own snow photos.

First, I opened the photo in Snapseed and pulled up the Curves tool.

Snapseed is a free app available in the App Store and Google Play.

I pulled my midtones and light tones up, and then dropped only the very darkest tones at the bottom of the curve. This brightened my whites, kept the boys’ skin tones natural, and added depth by darkening the darkest colors.

Confused by curves? I have a whole chapter dedicated to understanding this powerful editing tool in my eBook Picture Play!

When editing your snow photos, try a similar approach of pulling that top 1/3 of the line up just a bit to brighten and whiten the snow. 

Next I opened the Details tool and selected Structure.

I increased Structure by 29 which made the snowflakes stand out more and brought out detail and contrast in their hats and the building behind them.

Structure is a really fun tool to play with to add a little extra magic to your photos!

Next, I wanted to create a bit of a light and airy feel so I opened the Vignette tool.

But instead of creating a dark vignette around my subjects, I created a reverse/bright vignette- meaning I made the outside of the circle brighter than the inside. This draws attention to my subjects, who are still properly exposed- their skin tones look great, they aren’t too washed out or too shadowy. The area outside the vignette is just a little brighter. 

Try this when your subject is mostly surrounded by bright whites and lighter colors!

The white balance looks pretty good to me, but sometimes snow photos can look really blue or cold. So head to the White Balance tool.

I clicked the eye-dropper tool and put my crosshairs over my white snow. It suggests I make it 3 degrees cooler, and I think that looks good.

When you’re using the eye-dropper tool, just be sure to put those crosshairs over anything white or neutral gray in your photo. See how it automatically adjusts for you. If it looks off, try moving it around to another white or gray spot on your photo to see if you can find a better match.

After that, I saved a copy of my photo from Snapseed and headed to A Color Story for a quick filter. There are two in the free Essentials pack that I think will work well with this and many other snow photos. 

A Color Story is a free app with some free features and some in app purchases. It’s available in the App Store and Google Play.

The first is appropriately named Ice Ice. I applied it at about 65%.

Ice Ice is more muted, cool and less saturated than Pop, which is applied below at about 50%. You can really tell the difference between the two when you look at the red in the bricks.

Both are great for clean, crisp edits with bright whites that will play nice with your subject’s skin. (No turning anyone orange!) 

Again, here is the before:

Here are the finals:

Pop

Ice Ice

RECAP: Tips For Editing Photos Of Snow on Your Phone

  • Use your curves tool (both Snapseed and A Color Story have these) to bring up your light tones and midtones by pulling up the top right side of the curves line-  whitening your whites and brightening your subjects’ skin.
  • Play with the Details->Structure tool in Snapseed to increase or decrease detail, contrast, saturation, and clarity.
  • Try a revere vignette in Snapseed by placing the Vignette tool circle over your subject and increasing the outside of the vignette (dragging the slider to the right) and making it brighter instead of darker. 
  • Check your photo’s color temperature with Snapseed’s White Balance tool. Use the eye dropper and select a part of your photo that is or should be white (like your snow) or neutral gray.
  • Try filters in A Color Story-> Essentials pack. These come free with ACS. Two of my favorites for snow are Ice Ice and Pop. Personally, I rarely ever apply filters at 100%. Try pulling it down to 50-60% to see how that works for you.

If you liked this and would like to learn more about how to take and edit photos you will LOVE with only your phone and free/cheap apps, purchase my eBook Picture Play! 
It’s 161 pages of tutorials, examples, and some of my favorite tips for making my own photos pop. It’s a digital download that you will receive immediately. AND IT MAKES A GREAT HOLIDAY GIFT! There is a digital gift card option at checkout. 


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