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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.


ASP, WCT, current events, tips,

Tips from the ASP: Taking the Perfect Surf Action Shot

For more photos and videos from the Samsung Galaxy 2014 ASP World Championship Tour, explore the Snapper Rocks Beach location page and follow surfers Kelly Slater (@kellyslater), Carissa Moore (@rissmoore10), Mick Fanning (@mfanno), Stephanie Gilmore (@stephaniegilmore), Gabriel Medina (@gabrielmedinaaa) and Courtney Conlogue (@courtneyconlogue).

The Association of Surfing Professionals (@asp) kicks off its 2014 World Championship Tour today in Australia’s Gold Coast. The world’s best male and female surfers will take to the water to compete for the highest scores from judges considering level of difficulty, innovation, variety, speed, power and flow.

Whether you’re attending the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros or simply getting a surf session in with friends, keep these tips from ASP photographers Kirstin Scholtz (@kirstinscholtz) and Kelly Cestari (@kc80) in mind:

  • Nothing will end a water session quicker than a leak. Protect your water housing from any possible damage.
  • You will never win a fight against the ocean, but the more time you spend shooting in the water the higher your success rate will be and your confidence will grow with each session.
  • Communicate with the surfer about the type of image you have in mind and it will come a lot easier. Build a good working relationship with them, so they trust you not to ruin their wave and you trust them not to injure you.
  • Early morning and late afternoon are often the most magical times to shoot surfing. There is nothing more beautiful than a surfer silhouetted against a glowing backlit wave or wave painted with purples and pinks reflecting the colors of sunset.
  • Keep looking for new angles. Shooting from behind the wave can make the face look steeper and the wave bigger. Shooting from above makes it look smaller and flatter.


howishoot, tips, user feature, england,

How I Shoot: Capturing Fog in England’s Countryside

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Luke Cotton (@takemeonacruise) shares how he captures and edits foggy scenes from the English countryside.

Buckinghamshire, England, Instagrammer Luke Cotton (@takemeonacruise) doesn’t have to search hard for the beautiful foggy scenes he shares on Instagram. “I live in the English countryside and work as an agronomist, so I’m always outdoors in fields,” Luke says.

Capturing foggy landscapes is an art form, and Luke provided these tips for shooting and editing in foggy conditions:


"I always have my iPhone with me but just recently bought a Fuji x100s to make the most of low light situations.”

Vantage Point

"Trees dominate the landscape where I live, so that’s why I have so many in my feed. I find myself constantly scouting out new solo trees or perspectives. I like vanishing points so try to make the most of what lanes, tracks, fences or hedges can add in terms of leading lines in a photo. I sometimes use a tripod and a timer to add myself to shots—anything to add interest really."


"I try to shoot at golden hour or in fog as it adds drama to the landscape. I follow the weather forecast very regularly looking for signs of mist or fog hopefully combined with some sun. I also track the time of sunrise and sunset. The light at dawn is my favorite, but you need to be up early to make the most of it. It can be frustrating if the conditions aren’t what you expected, but that makes it all the better when you get good shots. There are some lakes near where I live that attract fog so I often head there.”

For photo taking, “I tend to use the Camera+ (iOS) app as the stabilizer function gives a crisp photo.”


"I more often than not edit in VSCO (iOS and Android), but sometimes the filters are too much for the subtle light at dawn, so then I might just tweak the photo a little in Afterlight (iOS). I try and crop to the rule of thirds but sometimes just go with feel.”


x games, tips, user feature, current event,

Tips from the X Games: Taking the Perfect Action Shot with @wilhelmvisualworks

For more photos and videos from the X Games, explore the Snowmass Mountain and Aspen Mountain location pages and follow @aspensnowmass on Instagram. You can also follow Canada snowboarder Mark McMorris (@markmcmorris), US snowboarder Shaun White (@shaunwhite), US Snowcross World Champion Tucker Hibbert (@tuckerhibbert) and US snowboarder Hannah Teter (@hannahteter).

The Winter X Games (@xgames) is officially underway in Aspen! The X Games are annual sports competitions put on by ESPN (@espn), which focus on extreme sports. The winter edition happens at the beginning of every year and hosts snow sports, including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Whether you’re attending the Winter X Games or simply hitting the slopes with friends, keep these photo tips from X Games photographer Brett Wilhelm (@wilhelmvisualworks) in mind:

  • Know your equipment. If it’s a smartphone, learn the basic ways to control focus and exposure, especially when trying to compensate for very bright snowfields or nighttime compositions under a black sky. These scenarios will often fool your camera’s automatic exposure attempts. Know if your phone/camera has a burst mode, allowing a number of photos in quick succession. Burst will give you a better chance at nabbing the peak action in a shot.
  • Take care of your gear. Try to keep your camera warm until it’s time to shoot—the cold wreaks havoc on battery life. If your smartphone is your main camera, get a decent waterproof case or a simple Ziploc bag. Nothing ruins electronics and optics faster than moving from freezing cold to warm humid conditions and back again. The bag helps shield your phone from that condensation.
  • You’re responsible for the entire frame. Great photographic composition is about learning to anticipate the action. In most competition environments, you know where the athlete’s going to be, so line up in a position that guarantees a nice, clean, non-distracting background. The goal is to isolate your subject against a clean snowfield, a bright blue sky, a soft dark background of trees—anything that assures they jump out from the background. At the same time, watch your foreground. Make sure there aren’t distracting elements popping out from the corner of your frame that you didn’t intend. Finally, try to avoid putting the action smack dab in the middle of the image. Moving it off center allows your eye to drift around the frame and generates a better visual complexity.
  • Know your sport. Most action sports are judged on height, difficulty and stylistic mastery. Include the take off or landing to give the viewer a sense of how big the subject is going, not just a guy-in-the-sky without context. Capture them at peak height, but give the viewer a reference point. If they’re getting inverted, show them while they’re inverted. Most of the grabs in skiing and snowboarding reflect a certain mastery of the trick, showing the athlete locking in their balance and control.
  • Have fun. Photography today is easier than it’s ever been. Immediate review allows us to quickly learn from our mistakes and social media allows us to share our images with the world in an instant. Learn these and the many other lessons of photography, then learn to break them as you play with your own style. In the end it’s art, and art has no right or wrong.


howishoot, Instagram video, tips, time-lapse,

How I Shoot: @sweatengine on Capturing the Perfect Time-Lapse Video

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Kevin Lu (@sweatengine) shares how he captures time-lapse videos. See more of Kevin’s tips on his website.

Since the launch of video on Instagram last year, New York Instagrammer Kevin Lu (@sweatengine) has been on a quest to perfect the art of capturing time-lapse videos with his iPhone. “Time-lapse" describes the technique of creating a video by stitching together a large sequence of photos taken over time, which makes slow changes appear to happen faster. These days, Kevin’s feed is full of spectacular time-lapse videos from around New York City.

For those interested in trying their hand at capturing a time-lapse video, Kevin provides these tips:


iPhone (4 or later recommended)

Vantage Point

"Choosing an appropriate vantage point is crucial to the success of the result. Often the subject of a time-lapse video is movement itself. Pick a subject that changes, moves slowly over time or makes intermittent, unpredictable movements for interesting results.

"As a rule of thumb, each frame of a time-lapse video should also be as good as a still photograph."


"There are many time-lapse apps available in the App Store. I personally prefer TimeLapse (iOS, $4.99) for its user interface and control settings. Lapse It (iOS and Android, Free) is another popular choice. They all do similar things—the difference is usually in control or output resolution.

"When shooting a time-lapse video, pay attention to the following technical details:

  • Secure the iPhone (on a small tripod or solid object) to eliminate camera shake.
  • Turn off iPhone’s auto-lock feature.
  • Make sure the iPhone has enough battery power.
  • If possible, from your time-lapse app lock the exposure settings before you start shooting. This will get rid of a distracting effect called ‘flickering’.

"The shoot duration, final length, and shutter speed all contribute to how the final video will look. For a final video length of 15 seconds, I typically use the following shoot settings for duration:

  • 5-10 minutes for slow to average city traffic
  • 10-15 minutes for pedestrian traffic
  • 15-20 minutes for clouds
  • 20 minutes or longer for sunrise/sunset

"Of course, as I mentioned earlier, these are not strict rules for this is a dynamic and creative process. It takes patience and practice to get it just right. Some apps let you adjust shutter speed as well. In general you can leave shutter speed on ‘auto.’"


"I do the majority of my editing with an app called Videon (iOS, $4.99). Videon allows me to straighten and sharpen my videos, as well as make adjustments to important parameters such as exposure, contrast, temperature and saturation.

"My editing usually begins with straightening my video, followed by slight sharpening and brightening underexposed shadowy areas. After these adjustments, I trim the video to 15 seconds before exporting it to camera roll. I then use another app called Lumify (iOS, Free) to pair my video with appropriate background music. Frequently I put on an Instagram video filter before I share.”


User Feature, tips, video, howishoot,

How I Shoot: Videos that Tell Stories with @hamadahideaki

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Hideaki Hamada (@hamadahideaki) shares his tips for telling a story using video.

Instagrammer Hideaki Hamada (@hamadahideaki) based in Osaka, Japan, finds his creative inspiration in people. Interested particularly in portraits, Hideaki’s favorite models are his two sons, Haru and Mina. “I try to take photos of scenes with people or anything that hints the presence of people,” he says. “I have always taken pictures of my family and ever since I realized that Instagram is the perfect tool to tell real-time stories about your everyday life, I have been posting multiple times a day.”

When those stories involve movement, sound and atmosphere specific to that moment, Hideaki switches to video.

Here are Hideaki’s tips for making a video which tells a story:

Camera iPhone 4S


  • Think about the structure of the story you want to tell in the video. Hideaki often uses four cuts in his videos which give the story a plot.
  • Just because you are shooting a video, it doesn’t mean you have to capture moving things. The story may gain depth by including both static and dynamic cuts. Hideaki relates this to still photography: “People sometimes gain more inspiration from things that look very insignificant and unrelated.”
  • Look around and decide what the important elements are before you start shooting. Since you will be filming and editing at the same time, get a sense of how to allocate each cut in the 15-second frame.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected and be flexible with your storyline when you film.
  • If you wish to keep an archive of your videos, create an original hashtag like Hideaki’s #hamadafilm.


howishoot, User Feature, puddlegram, nokia lumia, tips,

How I Shoot: Snapping the Perfect #Puddlegram with @mortenordstrom

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Morten Nordstrøm (@mortenordstrom) shares his tips for capturing and editing the perfect #puddlegram on a Windows phone. Follow him on Instagram for puddle shots of Copenhagen and browse the #puddlegram hashtag for more inspiration!

When Morten Nordstrøm (@mortenordstrom) isn’t working or studying business administration and communications, he’s out showcasing the beauty of Copenhagen, Denmark, as reflected through the city’s many puddles.

Getting the most out of a puddle’s reflection is an art, and Morten offered these tips for capturing and editing a #puddlegram on a Windows phone:


Nokia Lumia 925

Vantage Point

"First of all, when shooting puddlegrams you will obviously need a puddle. The bigger the better, but you will be surprised how little water you need to make a big impact.

"My experience is that I get the best effect when I look for a strong central focal point and try to get some depth in the perspective, maybe even a vanishing point. That’s one of the reasons why the majority of my puddlegrams are shot on streets; they often meet these requirements. Moreover they are often full of life, which gives life to the picture and helps to tell a story.

"If you want to do a proper #puddlegram, make sure your lens is as close to the ground as possible—even if it means you have to turn your device upside-down. It’s a little effort and it makes a huge difference. Moreover, mind the weather. Windy puddles won’t serve you well."


"I often think a lot about my perspective before I shoot. Other times I just walk around and look for details and shoot what I find interesting and inspiring.

"I’m always shooting with my Nokia Lumia 925 and I have been experimenting a lot with the different camera possibilities. Normally I just use the native camera, other times I use the Nokia Pro Camera which gives me more adjustability. My best advice when taking puddlegrams is to experiment with the number of shots you’re taking and see the different outcomes you can get. Analyzing strengths and weaknesses in these will help make you a more skilled puddleshooter!

"Note that people will be looking when you sit down and place your phone in a puddle. But remember, that is only because they don’t know about the magical perspectives you’re capturing. I sometimes pretend to tie my shoe laces, until the largest group of people has passed."


"This is where the magic happens. After extensive exploration of Windows Phone options, I ended up always using the same two apps: the Nokia Creative Studio and an app called Fhotoroom. They are very different but complement each other well. I like to keep things simple and often aim for a high sharpness, cold tones and not too strong colors, since I find them disturbing. Finally, I pay a lot of attention in the cropping process. A good crop can change a picture entirely—and so can a bad one.”


User feature, tips, slow shutter cam, long exposure, light trails, howishoot,

How I Shoot: Capturing Light Trails with Slow Shutter Cam

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Vlad Babushkin (@vladviper5) shares how he captures light trails with Slow Shutter Cam. To see more Slow Shutter photos, browse the #slowshuttercam and #slowshutterapp hashtags.

Vlad Babushkin (@vladviper5) is a 16-year-old living in Tokyo, Japan, who documents the striking architecture of his city on Instagram. Many of his photos are taken after the sun has gone down, when he uses long exposure photography to capture the city’s frenetic activity.

Vlad offered these tips for capturing the light trails created by the lights of moving cars on an iPhone:


iPhone 5.

Vantage Point

I use Slow Shutter Cam primarily to shoot city views at night. The app is great not just for cityscapes, but also for capturing the activity in a city after dark. Try staking out a high vantage point to capture the light trails from moving traffic.


You need a tripod. It’s important for your phone to be still, and a tripod prevents it from shaking. Use the timer to give your camera a moment to stop moving once you hit the shutter.

It’s also important to find a dark place to shoot. If there is a lot of light around the subject you’re capturing or in front of your phone, the photo will be too bright.

Experiment with shutter speed and sensitivity to see what different effects you can achieve.


Sometimes the photo you capture could use some editing. I usually use PicsPlay Pro (iOS and Android) to adjust colors and tones before sharing to Instagram.


tokyo skytree, User Feature, tips, Architecture,

Tokyo Skytree from @naomi0326’s Balcony

See more photos and videos of the Skytree by browsing the 東京スカイツリー (Tokyo Skytree) and 東京スカイツリー 天望デッキ location pages.

When Tokyo Instagrammer Naomi Nakazaki (@naomi0326) moved into her new apartment, she not only gained a new place to live, but also a fantastic view of the Tokyo Skytree right outside her balcony. It was not long before Naomi began to direct her passion for photography to the new landmark tower, taking snapshots of the Skytree at different times of the day to create a dynamic series. “I would try to wake up before dawn every morning and take pictures at daybreak,” she says. “I feel sleep deprived all of the time because of this.”

Naomi also likes the view at night when the Tokyo Skytree is lit up, but her favorite moment is when the lights go out every night at 11PM. “I like the softness and airiness of that moment,” she explains.

Want to capture a favorite landmark in your hometown? Here are some tips from Naomi:

  • Look out for the changes in the sky. One cloud can completely change the expression of the scene.
  • For something big like the Tokyo Skytree, try to capture the scene so that it looks high and wide within the square frame.
  • Aim for the perfect angle—when taking pictures on your phone, the slightest angle can hugely affect the colors you can capture.


howishoot, tips, user feature, average cam pro,

How I Shoot: @TonyCross’s Tips for Capturing Movement with AverageCamPro

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, @TonyCross shares how he captures moving water with Average Camera Pro. To see more Average Cam photos, browse the #AvgCamPro hashtag!

"I use Average Cam for two things: photographing water and shooting in low light," says photographer Tony Cross (@tonycross). “For low light photography, its primary function is to achieve the sharpness you can’t get with a normal iPhone photo.” But Average Cam’s ability to quickly take multiple photos and layer them on top of one another means you can capture beautiful images of moving water.

Want to try your hand at capturing moving water? Tony offers up some tips:

Vantage Point

"I mostly use Average Cam for photos of the ocean, and I always try to find something that will give context to the water – rock formations or groups of rocks, carefully placed people, and the like. But essentially I’d compose it the same as I would a normal photo. I tend to take wider shots."


"You need a tripod. Also, make sure your ringer and any vibrating alerts are off. This can interrupt the averaging process or shake the phone when it needs to be still. Average Cam allows you to lock exposure/focus (the little L button), and I recommend doing this, particularly in low light. If you don’t, the camera will keep auto-exposing as it shoots. Most importantly, when photographing water, experiment with the number of shots you’re taking and see the different outcomes you can get. Depending on the conditions, you can get anywhere from slightly-smoother-than-normal looking water all the way to smooth as glass. Try different increments and see what you like. I always use the timer for at least a second or two, so whatever movement I create by clicking the shutter has time die down.”


"I use VSCO and Snapseed (Apple/Android) to edit all my photos, and there’s nothing I do differently in particular for Average Cam shots. However, the total size/resolution output from Average Camera Pro is less than a normal iPhone photo, so be careful about running your photo through any editing process that degrades the image or resolution.”

Additional Thoughts

Try using Average Camera for all sorts of situations, says Tony. “While I mostly take photos of the ocean, I’ve seen tons of amazing shots of streams, waterfalls, really any type of water. Play around with exposure and number of shots. You can get a lot of different effects out of it.”


luciafernandezmuniz, user feature, tips,

Cinematic Portraiture with @luciafernandezmuniz

To tune in to Lucía’s portraiture on Instagram, be sure to follow @luciafernandezmuniz.

Lucía Fernández Muñiz (@luciafernandezmuniz) of Madrid, Spain, brings the magic and personality of cinema to a still frame in her portraiture. “Since I was a toddler, I have always had an obsession with films, actors, music and musicians,” she says. “I am still infatuated with some of Marilyn Monroe or Bjork’s portraits.”

Lucía uses her “sweet minimal” style—rich with emotion, color, sensuality and, of course, red lipstick!—to visually evoke the personality of her subjects. “It is amazing what you can reveal from a person when they are in front of a camera. People tell stories with my imagery, and quite often, the stories that inspire me are based on my dreams.”

Want to create a portrait with the energy and pop of Lucía’s work? For Lucía, it’s all about the atmosphere you create: “Give your subject a relaxing and free environment so they can be as natural as possible. I make them laugh, jump, dance… all different kinds of things until they feel comfortable.”