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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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WHPframed, weekend hashtag project,

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPframed

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 #WHPframed, which asked participants to use a frame as a creative prop in their photos. 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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current events, grammys,

Inside the Grammy Awards on Instagram

For more photos and videos from the 56th Grammy Awards, explore the 56th Annual Grammy Awards and Staples Center location pages and browse the #grammys hashtag.

The 56th annual Grammy Awards are underway in Los Angeles, California. The show officially begins at 8PM EST / 5PM PST, but you can follow your favorite musicians on Instagram as they get ready for the show and make their way down the red carpet. For a behind-the-scenes look into the awards, check out the following accounts:

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axlif, user feature, Who I follow,

#WhoIFollow: The Great Outdoors with Maldives Instagrammer @axlif

In the #WhoIFollow series, we ask Instagrammers to share their favorite people to follow. For more photos and videos from Azlif and his favorites, follow @axlif, @finn, @alexstrohl and @petehalvorsen on Instagram.

Graphic designer Azlif Mohamed (@axlif) lives in the Maldives, the world’s lowest-lying country: 99% of the country is covered by water and only 1% is land. Through his Instagram feed, Azlif’s followers get a rare glimpse at the island nation’s coastline and residents. For Azlif, Instagram is a way to share and see parts of the world outside of his tiny home country. He started using Instagram in 2011 while studying in Bristol, England. “It seemed like the right time to start and capture the contrast between life in the UK and my home in the Maldives. It was the perfect opposite!” he explains. “Since then, it’s become very much part of my life. A daily creative practice and a place to discover.”

Azlif’s favorite people to follow on Instagram share natural scenes that look very different from the ones he sees each day. “Some of my favorite Instagrammers shoot the great outdoors,” he says. “Alex Strohl (@alexstrohl) of Vancouver, Canada, and Finn Beales (@finn) of the Black Mountains, Wales, are both great photographers. I love the diverse range of scenes they capture with perfect composition, tone and narrative.” Azlif also likes to tune into California beach life. “I recently discovered Pete Halvorsen (@petehalvorsen) who captures life in Manhattan Beach. It’s always refreshing to see different beach cultures in faraway places.” In addition to sense of place, Azlif looks for personality in the people he follows. “I love following people who seem humble and genuinely interested in what they capture and choose to share,” he says. With Pete for instance, Azlif says he “can always feel the rawness and authenticity in his videos and photos.”

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twoi, the week on instagram,

The Week on Instagram | 115

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current event, wakakusa yamayaki, Japan,

The 2014 Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival (若草山焼き) Takes Place in Nara, Japan

To see more photos and videos of Wakakusa Yamayaki, browse the #山焼き hashtag and explore the 奈良公園 (Nara Park), 若草山 山頂 and 若草山 location pages.

On the fourth Saturday of January, the annual Wakakusa Yamayaki (若草山焼き), or “Roasting of Wakakusa Mountain” festival, takes place in Nara, Japan. As the name suggests, the festival is celebrated by setting fire to the dry grass of Wakakusa Mountain, creating a hill of fire. The event begins with a dazzling fireworks show, immediately followed by a lighting ceremony held at the foot of the mountain by Shinto priests. The spectacle of fire emitted from the top of the 342-meter (1,122-foot) mountain can be viewed throughout the city of Nara and from parts of neighboring cities. Many local and visiting Instagrammers gather to capture the fireworks and blazing hillside as the fire spreads throughout the mountain.

The tradition of Wakakusa Yamayaki is thought to have evolved over hundreds of years since it began before the Edo period (1603-1867 CE). Though the exact origin of the event is unclear, several theories exist. According to one theory, Todaiji (東大寺), Kofukuji (興福寺) and Kasuga Taisha (春日大社), the three great temples of Nara, started the hill burning as an act to calm the spirit of an ancient burial mound on the peak of the mountain. Another theory claims that the mountain was burned due to a boundary dispute between Todaiji and Kofukuji.

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Local Lens, Poland, user feature, warsaw,

Local Lens: Exploring Poland with @trynidada

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. To explore more of Poland, follow @trynidada on Instagram.

Instagrammer Patryk Kuleta (@trynidada) is an artist and graphic designer living and working in the Polish capital of Warsaw. His moody, minimalist photos showcase the diversity of Poland’s scenery from Warsaw and its environs to his hometown in Poland’s northern Kaszuby region. He shares some of his favorite photo-taking locations for visitors and locals alike.

"I live in Warsaw, and most of my pictures on Instagram are from here or within a 50-mile radius. Some of my favorite spots in or around Warsaw include scenic Zalew Zegrzyński (Zegrze Lake), the photogenic bridge Most Gdański, an eerie abandoned factory called Zakłady mechaniczne Ursus and the beautifully woodsy Kampinoski Park Narodowy.”

While there are plenty of scenic spots in and around this area, Patryk suggests getting out to explore other areas of the country as well.

"The coast of the Baltic Sea is stunning and the Tri-City area, made up of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia, is perfect for Instagramming. The Górki Zachodnie Plaża in Gdansk and Torpedownia in Gdynia are particularly worthy of a visit. I have even dedicated a hashtag—#houseofmissiles—to Torpedownia, which was a torpedo testing facility during World War II. It’s my favorite spot to shoot.”

Patryk has future adventures in store as well. “There are many other great places that are waiting for me to explore, like the Masurian Lake District in northeast Poland and the whole southern border, home to the Tatra Mountains.”

"I recently started a hashtag, #enjoymypoland,” says Patryk, “where I will continue to post photos from my beautiful country.”

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current events, news, kiev protests, ukraine,

Documenting the Kiev Protests on Instagram

To view more photos and videos from the protests in Kiev, visit the Independence Square and Barricades location pages or browse the #Kiev, #киев, #євромайдан and #euromaidan hashtags on Instagram.

Protests in the Ukraine capital of Kiev have escalated this week with barricades being set up in Independence Square. Instagrammers have taken to their phones to document the uprising through photos and videos of the protests.

Scenes show clashes with riot police as President Viktor Yanukovich enters into crisis talks while demonstrators continue to call for his resignation. The movement began after a landmark trade pact with the European Union was rejected.

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weekend hashtag project, WHPframed,

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPframed

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 photo announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

The goal this weekend is to use a frame as a creative prop in your photos. Some tips to get you started:

  • Think of your composition as a photo within a photo. Your frame will call attention to a specific part of your scene. Use it to emphasize unexpected elements or highlight details that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Your prop doesn’t have to be a traditional picture frame. Objects like tires, eyeglasses or even your own two hands can stand in as creative substitutes.
  • Keep your frame level with your phone for a straight on composition, or try tilting it forward and backwards to create more unconventional shapes.

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

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current events, Mavericks Invitational, surfing,

Surfing the Biggest Waves at the 2014 Mavericks Invitational

For more photos and videos from the Mavericks Invitational, explore the Mavericks Beach location page and follow Mavericks competitors @carlosburle, @donkeyshow and @jamie_sterls on Instagram for the athletes’ perspective.

On Friday, the world’s top surfers descend on Half Moon Bay, California, to compete in the Mavericks Invitational big-wave surf contest. Wave faces promise to be up to 12 meters (40 feet) tall and exceptionally powerful. “You can immediately feel the raw power of Mother Nature leaving the harbor and entering the open ocean,” says Instagrammer Matt Bauer (@mattcbauer), who is sharing photos and videos from a boat in the heart of the competition. “This legendary wave requires the right elements to align to show its fierce face. Luckily today is one of those days!”

For decades, the location has been known to host some of the biggest swells of all time—attracting surfers and spectators from across the globe. In 1999, the first surfing competition was held at Mavericks, and the competition has become one of the world’s most legendary surfing events. The exact timing of Mavericks is unpredictable, as the waves require perfect weather conditions to break at such size. Once the right conditions are detected and invitations sent out, competing surfers have just a few days to get to the event.

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googly-eyes, creatures, fun, User Feature, hashtag highlight,

Finding Googly-Eyed Creatures Everywhere with @alen4a_b

For more photos and videos of googly-eyed monsters, browse the #я_тебя_вижу hashtag and follow project contributors @alen4a_b, @gmentezi and @olasimxa on Instagram

For Ukraine Instagrammer Alena Baranova (@alen4a_b), the world is full of living creatures many people fail to notice.

She loves bringing everyday objects to life and giving them new, unexpected identities. As she lets her imagination run wild, Instagram has become her creative sketchbook for ideas. Inspired by childhood games, she bought a pack of googly-eye stickers and began to post photos of her new living creations with the hashtag #ятебявижу, which translates to “I see you.”

"The hashtag ‘I see you’ is a continuation of my favorite story from childhood," she says. "The world is full of living creatures, and adults forget about it when they grow up—so I resurrected my favorite game about pretty monsters."

Other Instagrammers welcomed the project. Alena sent a similar packet of googly-eye stickers to Ukraine Instagrammer Evgeniya Drach (@gmentezi) to take part, who also shared the eyes with her sister Olga Simxa (@olasimxa). Since then, the three Instagrammers have been finding little monsters everywhere. “Evgeniya and Olga make cooking videos and spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” explains Alena. “That’s why food, vegetables and fruits are often the subjects of the project.”

As for Alena herself, she carries a special small box with the eyes in it so she is ready to shoot at any second inspiration appears.