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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.

How I Shoot: Dodging and Burning, by Finn Beales

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How I Shoot How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking processes. In this post, Finn Beales (@finn) explains “dodging and burning,” a  photo-editing technique popularized by American photographer Ansel Adams.

Vantage Point: I generally look for a strong central focal point. A roadway, tree or something else that sits smack in the center of the frame.

Shooting: I shoot with the iPhone native camera app and usually expose my pictures to a mid-tone, bringing back areas that I want to highlight during processing. There’s often a lot of detail in the sky, as well as the shadows, and it’s a shame to lose this. Double tap an area on the screen that is closest to the midpoint between black and white (i.e gray). This will give you the best exposure for all the elements in the frame. 

Editing: For this photo, I made edits using Snapseed. First, use Tune image > Ambiance at about 30% to put some life back into the picture. Next, choose the selective adjust tool and add points to areas of the image that you want to enhance. I generally work with the light already in the picture. It’s a simple process of brightening the highlights and darkening the shadows, always working to isolate the subject at the center of the frame. This technique is called dodging and burning, and the legendary Ansel Adams was a master of it (although he used chemicals to get the effect as opposed to a swipe of the finger!).

When you’re finished editing in Snapseed, save the photo and then apply an Instagram filter that tones the image according to your preference. In this case, I used Sierra.

Photos: Journey to Antarctica

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Travel photographer JD Andrews (right) on board the MS Expedition to Antarctica

Travel photographer + @gadventures-blogger JD Andrews (@earthxplorer) recently took a trip to his seventh and last continent: Antarctica. JD boarded the MS Expedition in Ushuaia, a city at the southern tip of Argentina, and snapped photos as the ship negotiated the frigid waters of Drake Passage on its way to the Antarctic Peninsula. Take a look at the photos of ice glaciers, penguins and beautiful landscapes he encountered on his journey.

Do you know anyone documenting their travels on Instagram? Reblog this post and let us know in the comments!

Featured: @thiswildidea’s Portrait of America

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Name: Theron Humphrey, @thiswildidea

Bio: Meeting folks, loving folks, living the dream.

Website: thiswildidea.com

Location: USA

Theron Humphrey is traveling across the United States on a quest to meet 1 new person a day, every day, for 365 days. His goal is to create a huge portrait of America, visiting all 50 states, driving 40,000 miles, meeting and photographing folks daily for one year. Want to be part of the project? You can change Theron’s route by signing up at thiswildidea.com — you may even get to meet his amazing balancing coonhound Maddie!

One morning I woke up and realized how amazing it would be to hear my mom’s voice before she had me, or to hear my great-grandparents’ voices. To see them living their everyday. I’ve always admired folks who’ve traveled the country and photographed America. A lot have done it. And done it better than me. But something that was missing for me were folks’ names. I wanted to know that the photographers loved their subjects, that they shook people’s hands and told ‘em that they matter. So This Wild Idea is me getting out there and doing that: living my dream.

What I found out there is that everyone has a story, even if they don’t think so. Most folks want to be heard; they just want someone to listen. And after 200+ days of using my camera every single day, I found you can make a compelling photograph anywhere, even if it’s raining and you don’t want to get out of bed. Every story is worth telling! Life is beautiful when you become interested in grandmothers planting heirloom seeds in their backyards.

The photos of my coonhound Maddie evolved organically, like a lot of good things in life do. Maddie is a lighthearted pause to my daily life. I love meeting new folks and hearing their stories, but some days it feels draining. I always have to be on. But Maddie is easy to photograph — she’s always there! For close to 7 months, we’ve spent every day together. It’s become a way for me to breathe from my daily life, to do something funny, then snap some photos inspired by Wegman, Eggleston, and the Bechers -– folks I always loved.

How I Shoot: Photos of People Taking Photos, by Rebecca Silus

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With the Worldwide InstaMeet just around the corner, many of you will join up with other Instagrammers in your area for a photowalk, which is a great time to snap photos of your fellow Instagrammers in action. To help you prepare, Rebecca Silus (@fieldoffice) shares her tips for shooting photos of other people shooting photos!

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking processes.

Camera: iPhone 4S

Vantage Point: Getting close enough to see the other shooterʼs camera, but far away enough to create a larger story.

For this photo, I wanted to show the cat that @anthonygeorgis was filming as well as the location. Because both figures were contrasted against the background, I was able to back up and take a fairly wide shot without losing the moment. This allowed me to show the detail Anthony was shooting, the building his subject lives in, and the landscape the building belongs to.

Shooting: Telling a story—how will this image fit into the narrative of my stream?

I think a lot about how my Instagram stream reads—as a collection of thumbnails and as images that pop up individually in someone elseʼs stream. So I try to make my photos work together and get as much information into each image as possible. This helps me choose what to photograph next and was on my mind when I shot this.

I shoot with the native camera app and lean towards shooting darker because I brighten things up and add contrast during the editing process. The final crop is always a top consideration when framing the image, so I compose my shots with the square format in mind. Often this means physically backing up so that there is extra room on all sides to crop the image down later on.

Editing: Keeping it fast and simple.

Instagramming in real time is important to me, so a simple and fast editing process that I can complete in one app is key. PhotoForge2 has a great collection of precise tools for adding brightness and contrast, two steps that I take with almost every image.

With this photo I went to the exposure option and bumped it up to 1.40. Next I added a little bit of warmth by going to color balance and moving the midtones cyan/red slider to .50.

After bringing the color-corrected image into Instagram, I made the final decisions about the cropping. In this case, I drastically changed the original photograph by completely cropping out a part of the buildingʼs shadow that I found distracting. The final step to this edit was applying the Rise filter.

Want to share your advice for taking photos? Reblog this post and let us know in the comments! Or include a tip in the caption on your Instagram photo and use the tag #howishoot

Featured: Singer-Songwriter Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear

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Name: Ed Droste, @edroste

Bio:  I’m in a band. We’re called Grizzly Bear. I love travel almost as much as music.

Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

Singer-songwriter Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear is on Cape Cod with his bandmates recording a new album. Ed has no computer with him, but he does have his phone. He uses Instagram to share small glimpses into the band’s recording process. On his feed, you’ll see late-night photos from the studio as well as beautiful shots of the landscapes that surround their isolated Cape Cod house. Together, Ed’s photos tell the story of his album’s creation.

While recording, my bandmates and I are staying in an old drafty house on Cape Cod, without neighbors for miles. My bedroom often gets the heavy SE winds. The door is old and barely stays shut on a still day, so I’ve learned each night to rig it shut with a heavy boot tied to the knob, draped over an old chair, that’s then pulled back. It’s done the trick so far but is generally annoying!

I first started using Instagram as a way to share photos with friends while on the road in SE Asia. It wasn’t until this winter that I started to poke around more and discover all these amazing other people taking fantastic photos. You leave a few “this is great” comments here and there and sometimes a conversation strikes up. This is how I came to “meet” @trashhand, who not only has been so supportive of my photos but also helped me navigate the rocky road of editing a picture. He follows so few people I decided to check out some of the people he follows and got to discover amazing work from a variety of people, some of whom I enjoy saying a friendly hello to daily. I also follow friends back home and some fans who’ve commented on my photos and whose photos I liked.

After music, travel is my number one passion. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me time to travel and takes me to new places. I love feeling lost and disoriented and out of my element and am always game to try whatever street food, even if I do get a lil’ sick. I don’t own a house or apartment or a car. I’m very happy constantly moving and get restless easy, so I choose to spend a lot of my time traveling and exploring. I’ll never get sick of it, and luckily my husband @chadmcphail feels the same way. I plan to share photos from life on the road once we’re finished recording.

Be sure to follow Ed’s Grizzly Bear bandmates Chris Bear (@crbear), Daniel Rossen (@drossenbro), and Chris Taylor (@cee_taylor) on Instagram for more photos!

How I Shoot: Reflection Photos, with @dylanisbell

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How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking processes. This week, @dylanisbell shares his tips for taking reflection photos.

Camera: iPhone 4S

Vantage Point: For me, New York City is like one big fun house of reflections. My attention is constantly drawn to all the storefront windows with the dynamic ways the light bounces off buildings or spills through alleyways. Windows give you a lot of options, but as a starting point I find that if I like the scene behind me (the scene that’s being reflected) and the scene on the other side of the window, then I start to move my camera and body around to knock out certain elements that I want to reveal or hide. So think of your phone and body as a layer mask that can either hide or reveal an element.

Shooting: As far as what catches my eye, I would say New York City does. I’m pretty lucky  I guess, with all that’s going on in the city with people, light, reflections. I just try to pay attention and hone it all in and capture as much of it in one frame as I can.  When I approach these reflections, I do so with a motivation of what I think is possible, but what also attracts me to these reflections is the unknown. I am just as surprised by what I find as I hope others are. Without waxing too philosophical, for me these reflections resemble a bending of the rules of what is known to my basic visual perception of life. It’s kind like I’m trying to figure out or communicate with all these elements. 

Editing: I always use the built-in camera app to take my pictures. After I take the picture, I have a few apps that I might use to edit it. I usually use Camera+ to bring out features in the image, and I use Lux to bring out elements in the photo that otherwise might get lost. Finally, I choose an Instagram filter and then share the photo.

Want to share your advice for taking photos? Reblog this post and let us know in the comments! Or include a tip in the caption on your Instagram photo and use the tag #howishoot.

How I Shoot: Tips for Photographing Cars, with @drsmoothdeath

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How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking processes. This week, @drsmoothdeath shares his tips for finding and photographing beautiful classic cars, which he’s collected in his #morninautos series.

Camera: iPhone 4

Vantage Point: Obviously I’m always across the street from my subjects, but the question is whether I can get the whole car in the frame without leaning on someone else’s car too excessively or stomping someone’s garden to a withered mess.

Shooting: I always use my iPhone camera and do most of my shooting on my bike. I generally have a planned route in my head of neighborhoods I want to explore — either areas I haven’t shot yet, or where there is a regular turnaround of parked cars. I have the advantage of living in one of the best cities for older model cars (thank you, Portland!), which gives me a lot of beautiful subjects to choose from.

While riding, I’ll slow through every intersection looking down as far as I can see on either side of the street, scanning for older cars or just a fin or headlight sticking out. Once I find a car, I’ll look directly across the street to see if I have room to get the entire vehicle in the frame. If all looks good, I’ll head down the street and set myself up. If I can’t center-up, or the shot looks funny somehow, I move on and find something else in hopes of finding the car again sometime (I’ve waited months to see a car again!). And if I climbed a hill or had to pedal hard through traffic, I may need to slow my heart rate down first by breathing slowly in and out to get the “shake” out of my hands and arms (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, run in place for a couple minutes and try holding your phone steady. Not easy eh?). I like the pic to feel as quiet and calm as possible, so I try and pass on any cars with too much going on in the background, like other parked cars.

Editing: No real editing secrets here, just good ol’ fashioned cropping, and I usually end up using the Rise filter. The only other thing before posting is finding out what the car is and what year it might be to include in my caption.

Want to share your advice for taking photos? Reblog this post and let us know in the comments! Or include a tip in the caption on your Instagram photo and use the tag #howishoot

Austin Kleon: Instagram As An Artist’s Sketchbook

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Name: Austin Kleon, @austinkleon

Bio: A writer who draws.

Location: Austin,Texas.

Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) is a writer who draws. His first book, Newspaper Blackout, is a collection of poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker, leaving only a few words behind. His Instagram photos offer a behind-the-scenes look into an artist’s life: you’ll see notes on index cards and Photoshop illustrations showing the process behind creating a book, as well as doodles and one-off pieces that might never been seen anywhere else. 

This is a full-page broadsheet blackout that I posted while leading a blackout poetry workshop at the Dallas Museum of Art. I actually never really did anything with this piece. It’s an example of how I use Instagram as more of a sketchbook — a place to house doodles and one-off pieces that I might not put anywhere else.

This is a “dummy book” I made to show the team at Workman Publishing what I was thinking for the cover and design for my new book, Steal Like An Artist. I’ve used Instagram as a scrapbook to give people a kind of “behind the scenes” look at making it — everything from my original notes on index cards to my Photoshop screen of the illustrations. I’m sure I’ll be posting pictures this spring from the 20-city book tour, too.

This is my wife holding up a gigantic Newspaper Blackout print to demonstrate its scale. That’s our dachshund, Milo, at her feet. I have a theory that dogs help sell art. Not sure if it’s true, but they certainly lead to more likes!

The photo at the top of this post is from austinkleon.com.

Featured Instagrammer: Meet @whitjohns

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This is a new weekly series designed to highlight people sharing fascinating photos on Instagram. Every week, we’ll introduce you to a new person who uses Instagram to share a unique perspective on the world. This week, we’d like to introduce you to @whitjohns, an American currently living in Norway and sharing her beautiful photos of the Norwegian countryside with us on Instagram.

Your Instagram bio says you’re originally from the Midwest. What brought you from the US to Norway?

My husband and I moved here from Iowa. I am currently student-teaching in Norway. I had the option to apply and interview to do one of my teaching placements abroad, and after a lot of discussion with my husband, we decided that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me (a 26 year old, married, non-traditional student). So, I filled out the application, interviewed, selected Norway as one of my preferences (Italy and New Zealand being the other two), and got an invitation to teach here! In October, I packed my suitcase, and flew across the deep blue sea to live here for a couple of months.

Browsing through your photos almost makes me feel like I’m in Norway, too. Can you tell us a little about how you’ve been using Instagram to document your time in your new country?

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I’m known as the friend who always has her camera with her :) Instagram definitely took me to a new level though. My poor husband has had to take me down countless dirt roads, or pull to the side of the highway just so I can get the perfect shot! I owe him a big thank you for his patience and understanding of my addiction.

What cameras and apps do you use to edit your photos?

I usually shoot with Camera+ and edit with that program as well - usually with a cross process. Every now and then, I will shoot with the IG camera. My favorite effects to apply are Toaster & Rise!

What inspires you to share your photos with your followers on Instagram?

What I love most about Instagram is the unbelievably supportive community. My IG friends are so encouraging, and I really feel such a huge connection to them. I love that I can live vicariously through others by just scrolling down my feed. I see parts of the world that I don’t get to see regularly. I love being inspired by all the talented IGers out there!

I have a hunch based on your photos, but can you tell us what you do when you’re not teaching?

The Norwegians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I’ve enjoyed one adventure after another - from hiking, to sailing, eating traditional Norwegian dishes, and horseback riding on Icelandic horses! It’s been a magical adventure, and I will be sad to see it come to an end.

6 Photos, 6 Stories

the little red cabin that lived by the sea | This is the view that I have had the privilege of looking at while living in Norway. There are days and nights when I am sure that the big bad wolf has come to huff and puff and blow this house down, but here she still stands — in all her beauty.

the run with a view | One of my favorite activities to do here in Norway is go on a nice long run through the village I live in, Rosendal. With views like this, you could hardly consider this a chore. I get so caught up in the wildlife around me, and the colors that spill out of every corner, I forget I am actually in the act of physical activity.

here comes the sun | When I first arrived here, I was so eager to go on my first hike. I had no idea what to expect, and could hardly believe my eyes when this was the path that was set before me to follow. I think it took me a lot longer than it should have to get up the path, mainly because I had to pause to soak it all up, and take a snap shot to make the memory last forever.

the road less traveled | The go-to activity here in Norway has to be hiking. Many of my photos come from morning + afternoon hikes. On this particular day, I was headed up a road that would take me to the hiking path. By chance, I turned back to see what the view might be from #whereistood, and noticed the path winding, almost leading straight into the fjord.

little miss sunshine | Not too far from the winding path of the previous photo, I came across this lonely yellow shed. It really caught my attention, because the bursting colors screamed loudly against the complementary green backdrop provided by the evergreens + mountains.

smooth sailing | I have had many firsts here in this country, and sailing is one of the firsts I can check off the list. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to sail the third largest fjord in the world, but there’s a first time for everything :)