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Friday, 10 May 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa May 10, 2019


Saturday saw a missile and rocket exchange across Israel and the Palestinian territories, with hundreds of missiles fired day and night. Our teams on both sides of the conflict produced a powerful file. Two images from Mohammed Salem: the first captures a missile a fraction of a second from its target, making you hold your breath as you wait for the imminent strike and blast. Read the rest of the story here.

A missile approaches its target as smoke rises during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City May 5, 2019.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

The second image by Mohammed Salem, which also keeps you on edge, is of a man walking across a “bridge” of crushed concrete and metal, heavily weighed down as he salvages belongings from the destroyed building. Mohammed has timed his picture so the man is frozen at the weakest point of the traverse, the dark abyss of a drop seeming to reach up to pull him down. The broken metal bars and collapsed concrete stairs look like the jaws of a mechanical Venus fly trap.

A Palestinian salvages his belongings from the rubble of his house that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike, Gaza City, May 7, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Trails of smoke from anti-missile systems fill the blue sky and soft clouds to make an almost abstract picture, captured by Ronen Zvulun. I wondered, would it be better without the lamp post? Use your finger to hide the dark shape, the picture immediately loses the scale and context. Remove your finger so you can see the whole image again. The lines of the missile smoke now seem even more angry – don’t they?  

Smoke trails are seen in the sky as Iron Dome anti-missile projectiles intercepts a rocket that was fired from Gaza, above the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon May 5, 2019.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

At first glance all you really see in Amir Cohen’s picture is a small green bush against a brown stone wall. You then notice the highlight of the man’s arms, crouched and covering his head, sheltering in much as the corner of the stone work as possible. The compositional line and diagonals of the wall then lead to you the figures peering out from their “corner”. The dark shape in the background presses you back into the image. You then understand these people are sheltering, frightened. The caption reveals air raid sirens are sounding and these people have been caught out in the open. They are hiding, Amir is taking pictures.   

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza, during cross border hostilities, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon may 5, 2019.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen


Despite the vivid colours in the foreground and the matching T-shirts and posters there is a gentle calm surrounding Rogan Ward’s election picture in the soft morning light. Party activists are busy as they wait for voters in an empty landscape that stretches out to the far horizon. The question is, will anyone come? Read the story here

Inkatha Freedom Party agents are seen near a polling station ahead of South Africa’s parliamentary elections in the farm lands near Eshowe, South Africa May 8, 2019.   REUTERS/Rogan Ward

If you have read a few of my weekly posts you will know that I am a sucker for strong compositional patterns with obvious line and shape, but also not keen on silhouettes.  There is no getting away from the terrific fan shape created by the single central light casting shadows of the people waiting to vote.  Mike Hutchings has shot it wide enough for us to be zoomed into the picture at breakneck speed. It’s quite fun.

Voters queue to cast their ballots before polls close outside a polling station in Alexandria township in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 8, 2019.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A slight tilt to Umit Bektas’ picture has created a wonderfully designed image that has a lyrical feel. You can almost hear the song and chanting as sticks are waved to the beat in the open space of the sky. If you don’t see and feel all that, then just enjoy the smiles.

Sudanese protesters shout slogans during a demonstration infront of the Defence Ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan May 4, 2019.   REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Siphiwe Sibeko’s portrait picture is as warm in its tones as it is affectionate towards his subjects. The orange of Nobutho’s clothing is echoed in the bowl in the foreground and the cushion to the left. Both these blocks of colour are cropped off perfectly so they don’t distract you as they lead you around the image to the seated figure in the shadows, her husband, Mandla. This visual draw is accentuated by the line of shadow from the cushion to Mandla. Once there, you read the slogan on the wall. Read the rest of the story here.

Nobutho Thethani, 59, a full-time farmer, looks on next to her husband, Mandla, 61, a pensioner, at their home in Lawley township in the south of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 17, 2019.    REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

It’s now the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and in Yemen women are queuing up for charity iftar meals. Khaled Abdullah has chosen to shoot the long queue of women very wide to give the viewer to sense of scale of all those needing food as charity. What is really striking to me is the orderly nature of the queue as these people wait patiently. It has quite a sombre tone.

Yemeni women and girls queue outside a charity food distribution centre to get iftar meal during the holy month of Ramadan in Sanna, Yemen, May 8, 2019.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah







Friday, 3 May 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa May 3, 2019


Mohammed Salem’s affectionate picture of skaters poses the questions: What is shadow? What is painting? And what is silhouette? Your eye bounces around the images as if you are a skater yourself. The downward curves of the painted arcs of colour and the upward black line lead you to the inverted solid black figure. The shadows of the spectators leaning in from bottom right lead to the centre, where a Matisse-like series of cut outs layer on top of each other. Read on here

Members of the Gaza Skating Team cast shadows as they practice their rollerblading and skating skills at the seaport of Gaza City March 8, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 

Hands that look almost as old as the wall itself wait to dig fingers deep into the cross in the wall in Raneen Sawafta’s wonderful detail picture of religious fervor. The colour and texture of the hands begin to merge into the warm tones and lines of the wall, a sense of melting that is stopped only by the dashes of red on the pink nails and the strong dark lines of wrinkles in the knuckle joints.   

A worshipper places her fingers inside the holes in a column that form the shape of a cross before the arrival of the Holy Fire, at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West bank April 27, 2019.  REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

There’s no mistaking the powerful draw of the fire in Corinna Kern’s image. Even today the impact is quite striking, so I can’t help imagining what life-changing effect this might have had on people who witnessed this scene in centuries past. The figures are dwarfed by the buildings glowing with the warm light of the fire.    

Worshippers take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City April 27, 2019.    REUTERS/Corinna Kern

A cyclone has hit Mozambique for the second time in a month.  What I have come to realise is that to tell the story visually you have to show both show the enormity of the devastation and the impact it has on individuals. Mike Hutching’s picture does just that. A lone figure is striding through water, firewood gathered and carried on the head. In the background, destroyed crops that disappear into the distance lean to the right, countering the leftward motion of the figure, showing the storm’s powerful mark on the flooded landscape. Read on here

A villager carries wood through maize fields flooded in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth, along the Mieze river near Pemba Mozambique, April 30, 2019.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

There is an eerie calm around Umit Bektas’ picture. A small crowd gathers in front of what looks like a skeletal building, the focus of their attention a camel at rest, being cared for by the man in a yellow shirt, his hand resting affectionately on the animal’s back. Why is this happening? What are they expecting? Closer inspection shows that the camel’s legs are tied; the caption reveals it’s due for slaughter, the crowd waiting for meat.  

Sudanese protesters wait for a camel to be slaughtered to share its meat in-front of the defence ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, May 1, 2019.  REUTERS/Umit Bektas

A frenzied picture by Suhaib Salem of honey harvesting in Gaza. It’s been said that if your pictures are not good enough, get closer. Suhaib gets in as close as he can,  with a bee filling a large part of the frame top right and a swarm of bees filling the air as the workers try to calm them with smoke. This picture is, as they say, as busy as a bee. 

Palestinian beekeepers collect honey at a farm in Gaza City, April 29, 2019.   REUTERS Suhaib Salem

Sumaya Hisham has created a layered and surreal image that looks like a combination of a trompe l’oeil and a Windows background image. It’s an image that intrigues and makes you want to click to know more. What is happening? Why is the building unfinished? Why are there no people seen? Find out here

A view through the window of an incomplete house at Baken park housing project near Bethlehem, South Africa, April 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham


Saturday, 27 April 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 26, 2019


I’ve been away this week but thought that I’d still share my choice of the best from the region without the commentary, enjoy.


A Sudanese demonstrator carries a noose and gestures during a mass anti-government protest outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 21, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah 

Ink bottles are seen in a polling station during the second day of the referendum on draft constitutional amendments, in Cairo, Egypt, April 21, 2019.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Worshippers gather in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City during the traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Murals painted by Palestinian artist Alo Al-Jabail are seen on the remains of a building destroyed in former Israel airstrikes, in Gaza City April 15, 2019.  REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

A Libyan man is seen through a burning poster of French President Emmanuel Macron during a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar’s led offensive against Tripoli, at Martyrs’ Square in central Tripoli April 26, 2019.   REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah 

Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Good Friday services in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City April 26, 2019.    REUTERS/Corinna Kern

People queue to buy bread in Aleppo’s Kalasa district, Syria 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

An Iraqi Marsh Arab woman paddles her boat at the Chebayesh marsh in Dhi Qar province, Iraq April 13, 2019.   REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A presidential protection guard from South Sudan’s People Defence Force (SSPDF) walks in the rain after a parade at their training camp in Rejaf West, outside Juba, South Sudan April 26, 2019.    REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu

A Sudanese girl with a painted face watches as protesters demonstrate outside the defence ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan, April 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Umit Bektas




Thursday, 18 April 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 19, 2019


Look at me! Listen to my protest! is the message from this picture from Sudan. The flame licking into the half-light of the evening highlights the protester’s glasses and open mouth so that he takes on the momentary appearance of a fire-breathing dragon. Once your eyes get used to the bright light of the flame you can see the thousands of protesters in the background, stretching into the horizon of the evening gloom. 

A Sudanese demonstrator chants slogan as he attends a sit-in protest outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 14, 2019.    REUTERS

A big, fun yellow picture, a big smile, curls of hair and hands emerging from a mist of yellow powder. The only other real colour is the red mask guiding us to the laughing eyes of the person on the right. There is no way you can look at this picture without feeling the warmth of a smile.    

A girl is covered in yellow powder during Egypt’s first Colour Run in Giza Egypt April 13, 2019.    REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

Ali Hashisho’s picture has a feeling of a post-apocalyptic scene as three unidentified figures stand framed in a ruined building, looking across a cityscape at storm clouds in the distance. Are they gathering or clearing? The dash of warm sunlight on the broken concrete pillar to the left gives us some hope.   

Children stand together inside a damaged house in Kobani, Syria April 3, 2019.   REUTERS/Ali Hashisho 

Omar Sanadiki’s pictures need a little text to help explain them. On the face of it, we see ruined buildings with vegetation. So what? Now understand that this peaceful verdant scene was recently the scene of fierce fighting in Aleppo, Syria. I include two images from Omar, because the pictures need some explanation. The most colourful image, with reds and yellows, just does not have enough buildings to illustrate the context of the story. So much for the adage ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. Read on here.  

Blossomed vegetation is seen over damaged buildings and the ancient citadel during a warm day of spring in the old city of Aleppo, Syria April 9, 2019.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Poppies are seen in full bloom during spring in Aleppo governorate, Syria April 14, 2019.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

What a wonderful picture by Umit Bektas as he plays with scale and space. Almost a silhouette, but thankfully not. Your eye is drawn quickly to the figures in the trees, a flag extended as it is waved back and forth. These men look far too big to be safely in the tree, and maybe this sense is created by the open space above them or the line of figures beneath them. See more from Sudan here

Sudanese demonstrators wave a flag after climbing a tree outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Umit Bektas 

It’s just a lot of fun, people hugging, laughing and enjoying a moment perfectly captured by Luc Gnago as Ivanka Trumps visits Ivory Coast amid a myriad of dancing shapes, colours, stripes, patterns and smiles. Normally these visits are very stiff and formal but this breaks the mould. 

White House advisor Ivanka Trump dances as she meets women entrepreneurs, at the demonstration cocoa farm in Adzope, Ivory Coast, April 17, 2019.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Baz Ratner’s image is a little unsettling. I think the obvious reason is the figure wearing full bio protective gear walking behind the woman and the child seemingly unnoticed. What can be going on that this this gear is needed but there is a child unprotected? This then brings you to the full-on eye contact from both the woman and the child. You are drawn into the picture and it’s then you begin to notice that the only natural elements in this image are the uncovered faces. Plastic gloves, plastic clothing, plastic mask, plastic background and plastic fencing in the foreground. It all feels very unnatural and in this environment you are captivated by the eye contact, and that is unsettling. Why aren’t these people protected too?  Read on here to discover the story of those who survived Ebola caring for children with the killer disease.      


Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a carer to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds a child outside the red zone of the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25, 2019.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner   

To describe Mohamed Abd Al Ghany’s picture of an old book as lush - very rich and providing great sensory pleasure - might be a step too far but it’s the word I kept coming back to when looking at this detail picture. The warm tones of the aged pages, wrinkled with time, make us want to touch the book. The clever crop, so you can’t see all the book, ensures we spend time looking at the ancient text, which is quite exquisite. You can see more artefacts and the restoration project here.   



‘Codex Syriacus’, an ancient copy of the Gospels in Syriac, is seen on display in St. Catherine’s Monastery in South Sinai, Egypt, March 7, 2019.  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

Hard to ignore the wonderful beam of light in Ammar Awad’s picture of clergy during Holy Week in Jerusalem. Equally hard to ignore is the candle-lit procession of worshippers in the Holy City. These pictures really speak for themselves so I will let them do just that.       

Members of the clergy take part in the Catholic Washing of the Feet ceremony on Easter Holy Week in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 18, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Worshippers take part in a procession during the Catholic Washing of the Feet ceremony on Easter Holy Week in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 18, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad