Let’s get lit! 9 awesome tools to add glitter, sparkle and shine to your photos

Ruth Stephensen
Feb 4, 2018 · 5 min read
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Photo via Instagram by @sienna.and.i you can read Danielle’s tips on how to add magic and whimsy to your photos

Has your Instagram feed been looking seriously sparkly lately?

With the holidays and new years eve celebrations just behind us you may have noticed some extra glitz being layered onto your friends posts. You might have found yourself wondering if everyone had spent the holidays mastering some clever photography techniques with fancy new equipment they got for Christmas. Well, they might have, but the chances are they have just enhanced their photos with some clever filters and effects and we are about to show you how you can do the same.

There are loads of free (or very cheap) apps you can use to easily enhance the mood and creativity of your images — using just the smartphone camera in your pocket! Twinkling lights, sparkling decorations and dramatic lens flares are all able to be added into your photo during or after you take your shot.

So do you want to learn how to add some amazing lighting effects to your images? We have road tested a bunch of apps and broken them down into our top three effects to help you add some extra shine and depth to your photos.

Lighting and lens flares

Harnessing rays of light and using lens flares can add some serious drama and enhance the mood of your image.

To get the most realistic results layer the flare effect over shots which already feature the sun to enhance the golden, sun drenched feel in your image. You can also add these lighting effects into outdoor shots that don’t already feature the sun and allow the lens flair to come into frame from one side of your image. This creates a natural composition and can help draw the eye through to the main subject of your photo. For the most realistic results always add into sunny and well-lit photos and work with the natural direction of the sun when adding a lens flare effect.

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Subtle lens flare effect using ‘Lens Distortions’ app. Photo via Instagram @thecontentcreative
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Dramatic lens flare effect using ‘Lens Distortions’ app. Photo via Instagram @thecontentcreative


Lens Distortions iOS | Android

Frame your subject with elegant glass textures. Punctuate your shots with natural sunlight and lens flares. Create atmospheric depth with genuine rain or fog.

Rays iOS

Create stunning and realistic light ray effects quickly and easily. Known as volumetric lighting in computer graphics or crepuscular rays in atmospheric optics, this dramatic effect adds polish and style.

LensLight iOS

This handy app allows you to add and render lighting effects in real time. LensLight effects are completely dynamic allowing you to created beautiful streaks, glares, and edge bloom to add that final touch to your photos.


Bokeh, also known as “Boke” is one of the most popular subjects in photography.

The word literally translates from Japanese as “blur” and the effect looks like defocused background with concentrated blots of light forming into colourful abstract shapes. This aesthetic is very visually pleasing and helps draw the viewer’s attention to the focal point of the image.

As this technique is very technically advanced to capture, it is much easier to make the background blurred with natural-looking bokeh effects during the editing process. There are lots of apps to help you achieve this look by drawing bokeh shapes right onto your photo and you can even adjust the shape, size and opacity of each light.

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Shimmer effect added in ‘Lens Distortions’ app. Photo by Ruth Stephensen
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Bokeh effect added with ‘Bokehful’ app. Photo: Ruth Stephensen


Bokehful iOS

Add fun bokeh light effects to your photos! Simply select your color scheme and start drawing bokeh directly on your photo.

Insta bokeh Android

Insta bokeh is a popular app that allows you to add your favourite bokeh and blend effect to your photos.

Focos iOS

A more traditional app, Focos brings DSLR-like photography to your dual-camera iPhone with large aperture and real bokeh effect.

Sparkles and shine

The latest trend on the fashion circuit has been adding real-time animated sparkles to your photos and video.

You can add extra dose of star-factor to your shot with filters that add multicoloured rainbow or metallic sparkles through the camera as you shoot or by adding them in afterwards in the editing process. Some apps allow you more control by adding individual sparkle effects one by one whereas others work automatically by identifying anything glittery, shiny, or metallic in your shot.

Add sparkles to reflective objects in your shot to brighten up your photos and make the hero of your image shine like a star.

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Manual sparkles added in Twinkly app. Photo: Jinny Olney
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Video still of kirakira+ twinkle. Photo: Ruth Stephensen


Kirakira+ iOS | Android

The app works by adding animated sparkles to anything shiny or metallic in the frame. This app even lets you adjust the amount of sparkle, allowing you to increase or decrease it to your satisfaction.

Glixel Android

Glixel Photo Effects is a unique combination of Glitter Photo Effects and Pixel Photo Effects which allows you to create extra-ordinary Glixel Effect Pictures in no time.

Brillar iOS

Bring stars, glitters, sparkles to your videos and photos. The objects which are reflective and brighter will shine like a star.

Any we missed?

If you found this helpful or you have a favourite app we could include please join the conversation below

Originally published at www.creativelysquared.com.

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