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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPspacedreams

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes & hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

This weekend’s tag was #WHPspacedreams, which asked participants to take creative photos and videos inspired by outer space in honor of the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing. Every Monday we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.

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photography, women, human rights, child marriage, stephanie sinclair, too young to wed, india, User Feature, social change, instagram, portrait,

Inspiring Change and an End to Child Marriage with @stephsinclairpix

To learn more about the stories behind the pictures, follow @stephsinclairpix and @tooyoungtowed on Instagram. To see how you can get involved, visit the Too Young To Wed website and the Girl Summit website.

“She looked at me with tears in her eyes and spoke quietly, ‘In my whole life, I have never felt love.’ I continued to hear similar stories as I traveled, researching and photographing child marriage in countries like Nepal, Ethiopia, India and Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and even Europe and the US,” says photographer Stephanie Sinclair (@stephsinclairpix), who has spent more than a decade documenting the abuse of women and girls around the world.

Stephanie’s long-term photography project, Too Young To Wed (@tooyoungtowed), joins the UK’s Department for International Development and UNICEF at the first Girl Summit in London.

"I wanted to make sure that we got these images and stories in front of diplomats and policy makers who could enforce laws and support programs to provide more protection for these girls," she says. "I was sure if the rest of the world understood their lives as I had come to, real change wouldn’t be far behind."

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Simulating Life on Mars on a Hawaiian Volcano with @casey_stedman and @spincrisis

To see more daily life on sMars in Hawaii, follow @casey_stedman and @spincrisis on Instagram, and browse the #HISEAS hashtag.

Forty-five years after first setting foot on the Moon, humanity has set its eyes on Mars. In Hawaii, a team of “sMartians” (simulated Martians) is already practicing for life on a distant planet.

US Air Force Major Casey Stedman (@casey_stedman) is the Mission Commander for HISEAS (Hawaii-Space Exploration and Analog Simulation), an isolated “habitat module” on the volcanic island. “I haven’t seen a tree, smelled the rain, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months,” he says, describing life on the site chosen for its similarity to Mars.

"You don’t really think about the tactical feedback you get from biting into crisp lettuce and a juicy hamburger, but that’s the one thing that’s lacking here," says Chief Technologist Ross Lockwood (@spincrisis), describing “sMartian” cuisine, which is packed for months of storage. “We’ve basically been subsisting on mush. Flavorful mush, but mush nonetheless. That’s actually one of my favorite parts of Instagram during the mission: all those pictures of food are helping me get through.”

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Local Lens: Venturing off the Beaten Path in Singapore with @m_herwin

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. To find refuge from Singapore’s busy city life, follow @m_herwin on Instagram.

"There is more to Singapore than those big, tall buildings that you see in travel pamphlets," says local Instagrammer Herwin van Johari (@m_herwin), who seeks out the quiet sanctuaries nestled in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

For visiting nature enthusiasts, Herwin suggests a visit to the Southern Ridges, a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) trail that connects five of the city’s public parks. “The trail offers many vantage points that give you an amazing view of the city from some of the highest points in Singapore.” Other lush, photogenic escapes favored by Herwin include the Singapore Botanic Garden and MacRitchie Reservoir.

"If you are adventurous enough to explore further from the main island," says Herwin, "take a short boat trip to Pulau Ubin. Singapore is preserved in its rustic form here, and it’s a complete break away from the modern city.”

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photography, animals, landscape, scotland, highland cow, murn cameron, farm, User Feature, Instagram,

Face to Face with Scotland’s Shaggy Highland Cows

For more photos and videos of Scotland’s shaggy cattle, follow @murn_eilidh_kate and browse the #highlandcow and #highlandcoo hashtags.

Long-horned and remarkably shaggy cattle graze throughout the rolling hills of the Scottish countryside, capturing the hearts of visiting and local Instagrammers alike. Officially called the Highland cow, the breed is also known by its name in the Scots language, kyloe, and by the affectionate name of Highland “coo” for its pronunciation in the Scottish accent.

The cows are more than just a shaggy coat with horns for 17-year-old Scotland Instagrammer Murn Cameron (@murn_eilidh_kate), who works with her family on the Dunach Estate farm near Oban. “The cattle are really inquisitive and curious about humans, and they want to interact with us,” she explains. “They all have different personalities a bit like humans. The calves are very cheeky—and adorable.”

Murn takes her phone with her into the fields, capturing the cattle in all their different colors. “I have a soft spot for the red ones myself,” she says. “People joke and say it is because of the similar hair color as I am ginger, and I must say they may have a point!”

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weekend hashtag project, WHPspacedreams, space, moon, Instagram, photography, science, solar system, telescope, ufo,

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPspacedreams

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes & hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing on Sunday, the goal this weekend is to reach for the stars and take creative photos and videos inspired by outer space! Some tips to get you started:

  • If you’re not sure where to begin, try visiting your local science museum, observatory or planetarium. Look for interesting new ways to capture the exhibits.
  • Let your imagination fuel your creativity. Photos and videos inspired by astronauts, planets, galaxies, space shuttles and even science fiction are all options to explore. The sky’s the limit!
  • Interested in trying your hand at astral photography? Grab a telescope, check to make sure it’s a clear night and try holding your phone’s camera lens to the eyepiece. After you’ve lined it up, tap the screen at the brightest part of the image to prevent your subject from overexposing.

PROJECT RULES: Please only add the #WHPspacedreams hashtag to photos and videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own photographs and videos to the project. Any image or video taken then tagged over the weekend is eligible to be featured right here Monday morning!

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Paying Tribute to Madiba on Mandela Day

To see more tributes to activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela, explore the #MandelaDay and #Madiba hashtags.

Nelson Mandela was only 33 years old when a speech he gave incited a protest in Durban and first landed him in jail. Over the next 10 years, Mandela would be arrested three more times for his work fighting South Africa’s oppressive apartheid regime until a 1962 conviction for sedition sent him to prison for the next 27 years.

“I was hoping to capture some sense of the hardships he suffered,” retired Johannesburg math lecturer Vivien Budge (@vivbudge) says of the young Mandela portrait she painted, “the anger he must have felt at the injustices he witnessed and the relentless tenacity, determination and courage with which he fought for his beliefs.”

After his release in 1990, Mandela helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and became the country’s first black democratically elected President. Mandela, who died last December but would have been 96 today, continues to inspire South Africans and others around the world to this day.

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Tradition Meets Technology at the 2014 Eco Edo Nihonbashi Art Aquarium

For more photos and videos from the exhibition, explore the COREDO室町 (Coredo Muromachi) and アートアクアリウム2014 (Art Aquarium 2014) location pages and browse the #アートアクアリウム (art aquarium) hashtag.

The Eco Edo Nihonbashi Art Aquarium 2014 opened last Friday at the Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall in Tokyo, Japan. This exhibition features 17 fish tank installations designed by “art aquarist” Hidetomo Kimura, whose work brings more than 5,000 goldfish on display in 70 aquariums.

These extraordinary aquatic installations are decked with LED lights, projection mapping, music and even scents. While the technology involved is quite advanced, the aquarium designs are inspired by Japan’s Edo Period (1603–1868) and incorporate traditional motifs such as classic glass fish bowls, folding screens and lanterns.

Hidetomo’s works will be on view at the Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall until September 23, 2014.

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Drawing on Emotion with @literaluis

For more of Luis’s sketches, follow @literaluis on Instagram.

"I’ve been doodling since I can remember. At times, it even becomes a totally unconscious act. No blank sheet of paper is safe with me as long as there’s a pen or pencil around,” says 17-year-old Mexico sketch artist and dancer Luis Ruiz (@literaluis). Luis characterizes his style as cartoon-like and says he never intends for his characters to really resemble the subject. “The relevance I see in them doesn’t lie in who they are, but what they would say if they were able to speak,” he explains.

Luis finds creative inspiration from listening to others. “My favorite things to sketch are portraits because of how much they reveal about a being or a person: a nostalgic gaze, lips sealed as if they had something important to say, even the way hair is styled. The possibilities are endless.” Relating to his subjects is also a part of Luis’s creative process. He explains, “I enjoy seeing the contrast between my characters’ portraits and my own. By standing next to them, I am reminded that they are a part of me and that their feelings were once my own. Nowadays everyone is eager to share their own story, however only a few are keen to listen. Listening to someone else makes you realize how human we all truly are and how our emotions aren’t as alienated as we may portray them.”