Friday, 17 August 2018

Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, August 17, 2018

Strong compositional lines cut across Azad Lashkari’s picture like a frenzied attack on the visual senses. The horizon line slightly lower than the centre of the picture cuts through the heads of those holding the poles, forcing you to look up at the soldiers precariously balanced, before your eye speeds back to the flag in the distance. The diagonal lines of the safety mats bring your eye back around to the foreground of the image. A wonderful feat of balance and composition.     

Members of the Peshmerga Zirvani commandos demonstrate their skills during their graduation ceremony at the Tiger training camp in Erbil, Iraq August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Luc Gnago’s picture is a wonderful example of what I call a picture that ‘does what it says on the tin’. It’s the vote count of the presidential run-off, we see the candidates’ names on the blackboard, the number of votes marked in white chalk marks and an official holding up a voting form with the candidates’ pictures on them. If I were to nit-pick I would like the man in the background to not be there but I have learned we don’t live in a perfect world so I go away very happy with this picture.   

Election workers start the counting of the ballots during a run-off presidential election in Bamako, Mali August 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

I just had to include a second picture from Luc Gnago as it’s just brimming with life, colour and energy.  “Don’t touch my vote,” the black on red placard screams, amid a noisy scene of the bus loaded with people and speakers thundering support, and motor cyclists weaving about the road. You can almost taste the heady atmosphere, as the woman with her tongue out seems to suggest.  

Supporters of Soumaila Cisse, leader of the opposition party Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), carry banners as they protest along a street in Bamako, Mali, August 16, 2018. The banner reads ‘Don’t touch my vote’.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago 

This picture just makes me feel good and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s something one would not expect from Rwanda, a cycling race? Maybe it’s a sense I get, that while it may be plagued with doping scandals cycling might have an opportunity for a new start on a new continent. Or maybe it’s the sense of effort, the straining sinews of the cyclist’s leg caught in the sunlight and out of focus hands clapping encouragement that draws me to this image.

Samuel Mugisha of Team Rwanda competes during the Tour de Rwanda 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda August 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Jean Bizimana

Sometimes happy accidents occur when you set out to achieve one thing and your idea changes to another. Amir Cohen set out to cover the meteor shower but the noticed in his time exposures how vehicles illuminated the road like a magical path. Working on longer exposures and hoping for a greater volume of traffic he got lucky and succeeded in shooting this wonderful atmospheric image. Incidentally, he also managed some terrific pictures of meteors streaking across the skies.

The road is illuminated by the headlights of cars being driven through the Ramon Crater near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, August 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen  

Although you can see only dozens of people in Muhammad Hamed's picture, the visual echo of people's heads, getting smaller as you look to the background, in the shapes of vegetation behind makes us feel as though thousands are attending, as far as the eye can see. Maybe it's just my imagination, but it looks to me that dust thrown up by the mourners seems ghost-like as it hovers over the flag-draped body.

Guard of Honour and relatives of sergeant Hisham Agarbeh, of the anti-terrorist unit, who was killed in an attack, carry his body during his funeral in Birayn in the city of Zarqa, Jordan, august 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Zohra Bensemra’s picture looks like a combination of a Bridget Riley painting, a Matisse cut out and a cityscape still from the 1927 classic film Metropolis. The harsh light has drained all colour, reducing it almost to blacks and white. The flat black shapes of the foreground look like a cut out that has been laid on the image and once we force our way past this heavy blackness we finally get to see hundreds of people making their way from prayer. What a visual and cultural feast.  Read more from the Haj here

Muslim pilgrims walk out after the Friday prayer at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage in the Holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa August 10, 2018

Some time on vacation but I am drawn as ever to look at the pictures. Here are the images that struck me most during this week from the region.

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel near the southern city of Sderot, Israel August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen 

A missile lands as an Israeli aircraft bombs a building in Gaza City August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

More picture from the Israeli-Palestinian clashes here.

A vendor carries a sold sheep to the customer's car, ahead of the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo smiles as she is welcomed by supporters after being released from detention in Abidjan, Ivory Coast August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Ruqqayah Abubakar lies on a bed after being treated at an obstetric fistula repair centre in Maiduguri, Nigeria August 1, 2018. Picture taken August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

A Palestinian boy looks out of his family's house that was damaged in an Israeli air strike, in Al-Mughraqa on the outskirts of Gaza City August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

A boy stands on woven mats in Idlib province, Syria July 29, 2018. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi

Women from Berber Kabylie region walk up to visit the Azrou N'Thor (Zenith Rock) mausoleum on the top of the Djurdjura Mountain in Tizi Ouzou province, Algeria August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Boys inspect graves prepared for victims of Thursday's air strike in Saada province, Yemen August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

A former child soldier holds a gun as they participate in a child soldiers' release ceremony, outside Yambio, South Sudan, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu. More picture here

Flowers are laid under a wall displaying the names of people killed in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing at the August 7th memorial park in Nairobi, Kenya, August 5, 2018. Picture taken August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, U.S.-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

South Sudanese civilians celebrate the signing of a cease fire and power sharing agreement between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, in Khartoum; along the streets of Juba, South Sudan August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Samir Bol

Although it's from the week when i was travelling before I just had to include this from Siphiwe Sibeko. You can see images from Zimbabwe here.

A supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC) of Nelson Chamisa wears a cone as they block a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Friday, 27 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa July 27, 2018

I just needed to add Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s star spangled picture of the 'Blood Moon'. What I like so much about this is that Mohamed has approached this differently know that there would be many images of the moon in its red state through out the region. By using a long exposure and tripod he has put the lunar eclipse in the context of the cosmos and man. I feel this drives home just how small we look with our little electric light and digital technology. See more lunar eclipse pictures here

A Man takes pictures during the ‘Blood Moon’ lunar eclipse in the desert of Al Fayoum Governorate, south west of Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Baz Ratner’s picture of people watching as slum homes are destroyed to make way for a road has a slightly uncomfortable yet familiar feel to it. How often have you peered through fencing to watch construction work, or those of you who have toddlers would have more than likely entertained them with a trip to look at the ‘diggers’ and ‘workmen’. Although a very busy and complex image we are drawn into it from the strong dark tones in the foreground, through to the centrally placed figures wearing red in the middle ground up to the hazy distance of a mechanical digger tearing at the makeshift buildings in the dust. What is slightly uncomfortable is that this is the destruction of the homes of some of the poorest in the city. Read on here.

Onlookers watch as bulldozers demolish houses to make way for a new road in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, July 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The only way to describe Luc Gnago’s picture from the bus station in Mali is an explosion of light and colour. I am excited and exhausted as my eye races around this busy scene. Any colour you like is there. I so want to be there in the hustle and bustle, and I am not even worried by his shadow cast on the back of the green minibus or is that the shadow of the woman with the sack on her head? 

People hurry as they move to and from mini buses at the bus station in the evening light in Bamako, Mali, July 24, 2018.    REUTERS/Luc Gnago

I can’t help but think of the sun-dried bones of a prehistoric dinosaur when looking at the building in Tiksa Negri’s picture from Eritrea. I like the beauty and magnificence of the building destroyed by conflict and baked for years by the sun. It’s the same heat that the person carrying a table is sheltering from.  

A man carries a table as he walks past the ruins of a building in the port city of Massawa, Eritrea July 22. 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negri

What is exciting is that we are now getting pictures out of Eritrea after years of no access. I love the pool of light which draws the viewer straight to the figures crossing the road silhouetted by the single car heading towards us. I sense that Tiksa Negri’s night street scene picture is really quite illustrative of the issues confronting the country and the capital, Asmara. The fact that the streets are hardly lit demonstrates the extent of the poverty the country is facing. 

An Eritrean couple walk along a street at night in Asmara, Eritrea July 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negri

In very much the same vein as the picture above, a small detail in a wide, even-toned space will catch your eye and you will look closely into it. With Ammar Awad’s powerful picture of a warplane in an attack dive you need to study it even more closely. Only then will you spot the two bombs released from the aircraft - destruction and possible death only seconds away.  

A warplane carries out a bombing run above Syria near the Israeli-Syrian border as seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan heights Israel, July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The strong light and the shallow depth of field in Suhaib Salem’s picture create an almost abstract swirl of body shapes, faces and hands that finally draws you to the face of the grieving woman. Once your eye settles on her, you look deeper into the grief. Her arms are tightly wrapped around the man, squeezing hard. It’s then you notice the hand from the almost invisible woman standing passively on the left, fingers digging into her brow, we assume, trying to rub her grief away.   

Relatives of Palestinian militant Abu Dakah, 31, who was killed in an Israeli strike, mourn during his funeral in Khan Younis in the Southern Gaza strip July 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

One normally associates the rainbow colours with LGBT and gay rights demonstrations, but not so in Corinna Kern’s haunting picture. Most colour has been taken out of the image as Corinna shoots through a transparent banner that has Netanyahu’s face printed on it. The image has the look of video frozen in transition as you fade from one sequence to the next. 

Israeli national flags can be seen through a banner with a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a LGBT community members protest against the discriminatory surrogate bill in Tel Aviv, Israel July 22, 2018.   REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Strong colours, strong lines of design and a flow and counter flow all balance in Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture to make you feel like you are on a powerful tide of people moving from left to right and back again. Everyone is looking from right to left in this picture, their arms all leading in the same direction, a seething mass of people. But the main figure looks in the opposite direction, her face held motionless in the strong light. She seems to be beckoning to the army of people from Zimbabwe: Onwards, onwards!    

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s opposition party attend a rally in Chitungwiza, outside the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, July 26, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The inclusion of a second picture from the same story by the same photographer is rare in my weekly round-up, but I cannot resist the grace and beauty of the hands, fingers, eyes and colours in Luc Gnago’s wonderful picture of supporters at a political rally. You are immediately smitten with the beauty of the woman in profile with the red head scarf. You then feel as if you are in a complex and delicate dance that involves half glances of eyes through veils that finger and hand movements momentarily reveal. Count the number of eyes you can see but where you can’t see the full face; include in that count the posters too and you will maybe understand how I got this impression. Read on here.

Supporters of candidate Aliou Diallo, leader of the Democratic Alliance for Peace (Alliance Democratique pour la paix, or ADP-MALIBA) Party, attend an election rally in Bamako, Mali, July 26, 2018.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Amr Abdullah Dalsh uses the simple technique of back focusing that draws you immediately to the point of the picture, a portrait of a son. The ugly top stark lighting in the room not only highlights the picture in the black frame against a white wall but also darkens the eyes of the parents as they recount their story of their arrested son. The mood is very somber. Shawkan, their son, faces the death penalty. Read on here.

A photograph of jailed Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as ‘Shawkan’ is seen behind his parents at their home in Cairo, Egypt July 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Friday, 20 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East & Africa July 20, 2018

I can’t decide if Amir Cohen is lucky or unlucky to be close enough to an Iron Dome missile system to capture its launch during a mortar attack, but either way it’s a striking picture. What adds to the strength of this image is that the photographer was quick enough to not only capture the missile’s launch but keep in the frame an equally lucky/unlucky person to give it scale and drama.  

An Israeli man looks on as Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon July 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen

No less striking a moment is captured by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture of an airstrike in Gaza on the same day as the Iron Dome launch. The ball of fire and great plumes of smoke are see in the terrifying context of city buildings all around. Stepping away from the actual news story that this was the worse exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza since 2014, and looking at this in pure visual terms, like the dark shapes in the foreground, it gives it scale and places it in a city. I did have a look at a tighter crop of the ball of fire as a focal point of the picture but think at the end of the day the wider image tells the story better. What do you think?   

An explosion is seen following an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza City July 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

An editor’s crop has transformed Philimon Bulawayo’s picture from vertical to  horizontal but also removed wasted white space at the top, drawing your eye to Chamisa’s face and the outstretched hands. What you do lose is the sense of the enormous crowds and the people who have climbed the pylon in the background. For my money I like the tighter crop. You may differ. 

Zimbabwe’s opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa is greeted by supporters at a rally at Sakubva stadium in Mutare, Zimbabwe, July 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Sometimes you look and look at a picture and think something is a little out of place but can’t quite put your finger on what. Thomas Mukoya’s picture is one such image. The harsh light creates a complex set of shapes and colours, the hat, silhouetted figures, the pink shirt with writing on it you can’t make out and the tents, all make it hard for the eye to settle. Then slowly it dawns: the US flags have been attached to their poles back to front.  

Residents wave the U.S. national flag as the chant slogans as they walk along the road prior to the visit by former U.S. president Barack Obama to his ancestral home, Nyangoma Kogelo village, in Siaya county, western Kenya, July 16, 2018.   REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture breaks all the rules. You have a flat line that cuts the image in half, top to bottom; large empty black spaces; faces looking out of the frame so close to the edge of the picture you sense they are going to bump their heads. And yet it works wonderfully. 

Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the 16th Nelson Mandela annual lecture, marking the centenary of the anti-apartheid leader’s birth in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 17, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

 We encourage photographers when they are shooting a story to make sure to include a detail picture. In my mind a detail picture is an image of something small that might easily go unseen but is quite revealing. It doesn’t have to be a closeup but often it is. Ari Jalal’s picture is quite abstract when you look at it in its entirety and turns the notion of detail on its head. You see a wide picture, horizonal line cutting the image in half with two slabs of toned colour, a ‘button’ casting a shadow in the top centre and small patches of colour. You have to look closely to see the patches of colour are hand prints and signatures of patients. Now you take the time to look at each of the hand prints and try to read the writing of each individual’s story.  

A mural of painted hands and messages from wounded people, who have recovered and have been discharged from the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Mosul, Iraq, July 10, 2018.   REUTERS/Ari Jalal

One can only imagine the feelings you must have as a father hugging your daughters after being separated for 18 years, but Tiksa Negeri captures this moment forever. A very quiet image that needs a caption to explain it but you immediately get a sense of the powerful and tight embrace, as his daughters are held close and tight, their faces pressed to his chest. When you look into the shadows of the image, its real beauty comes alive, the sisters looking into each other’s tear-stained eyes, one with her hand on her father’s chest, just inside his jacket, where she can feel his heart beat. The lines on his face speak to me of years of worry and separation. You can see more heart-warming pictures from Asmara here

Adisalem Abu, reacts as he embraces his daughters, after meeting them for the first time in eighteen years at the Asmara International Airport after Ethiopian Airlines flight ET314 arrived in Asmara, Eritrea July 18, 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The woman in the blue head scarf in Khalil Ashawi’s picture looks like she is frozen in time. Her mind and eyes are a thousand miles away, her sleeping baby is held close. Even though the picture is busy with the swirl of activity around her, your eye is drawn to the central point of her face. You are not distracted by the boy in the blue shirt, the white highlight to the left or the purple head scarf, you just keep coming back to that face.   

People are evacuated from the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, Syria, July 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Khail Ashawi

Friday, 13 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa July 13, 2018

There is no escaping the feeling that Ronen Zvulun’s picture is more than a little bizarre. Five people dressed the same, sitting on what looks like a precipice, legs daggling into the abyss looking into Syria. Once you get past looking at the raised arms and wondering why they are doing that, your gaze is propelled to the far horizon through blue skies to a haze that might be created by the clashes near the border or could just be banks of cloud. 

Israeli Druzes sit together watching the Syrian side of the Israel-Syrian border on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel, July 7 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

Feisal Omar’s picture is a powerful news picture in a classic sense: it’s full of action and drama. Armed men rush through bomb-damaged streets; your eye races around the frame in confusion. Your attention darts from the coloured screen and reds and blacks of the tuk tuk, to the shadows and harsh vertical lines of the grey concrete building behind, back to the gunman on the left, and finally to the three men on the right, with their weapons held at the ready.  You can see the full sequence of pictures here

Somali security agents take position as they secure the scene of a suicide car bombing near Somalia’s Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Alaa Al-Fakir’s picture is all about perseverance and determination. The small girl labors in the heat of the overhead sun at what seems her impossible task of pushing a wheelchair-bound elderly person over rough and barren terrain. The glimmer of hope I try to take from this picture of difficult struggle is the determination in the girl’s efforts. Using the full force of her body, she is not giving up: her legs are braced, head down and arms straight. She will succeed in helping this person less able than her. 

An internally displaced girl pushes a woman in a wheelchair near the Israeli-occupied Golan heights in Quneitra, Syria July 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Alaa Al-Fakir

When I look at the light and compositional structure of Ronen Zvulun’s picture I think of the American painter Edward Hopper . Warm and cold colours, strong lines and bold flat shapes fighting for equal amounts of space. The figure always perfectly positioned in the composition, but leaving us with the sense that they are slightly distant, divorced or uncomfortable, that they’d rather be elsewhere. 

A Syrian woman holds a baby as she walks into a checking room just after they crossed the armistice line to the Israeli-occupied Golan heights to get medical treatment in Israel July 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

I was impressed with Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture from Gaza for complex reasons that I will explain. Often, he covers clashes and funerals but we also need to illustrate less visually rich news stories such as financial and complex political stories about longer-term trends. On this occasion the story was China’s growing economic influence in the Middle East. Not an easy one, not one to make immediate impact but certainly one to demonstrate sophisticated visual thinking. What would you take a picture of? When a customer searches ‘China Gaza’ to illustrate the political and economic of China’s role in Gaza this image will be found. It’s a ‘slow burn’ clever picture told by the words MADE IN CHINA on the box. 

A Palestinian vendor carries a cardboard box containing toys made in China, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 10, 2018.  REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa  

Two striking and thoughtful pictures from Sumaya Hisham to illustrate the ongoing turmoil at the energy company Eskom. I love the march of the pylons appearing over the hill like an alien army. With the washed out sky, the cold steel shapes seem to be wading  through what looks like a cold sea, an effect created by the horizonal lines in the grass. Read on here about the Eskom pay deal.

Electricity pylons carrying power from Koeberg nuclear power station are near Cape Town, South Africa, July 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

And in Sumaya’s picture below I love the patches of cold blue of the cross painted in the door and the equally cold blue light in the two windows on the left countered by the warmth of the sky and the hot spots of the lights overhead. And both these pictures were used to match a financial story about pay negotiations between workers and a company. To produce such imaginative pictures from what is a relatively dry story is a mark of a great photographer.   

Overhead power lines are seen at Khayelitsha informal housing settlement near cape Town, South Africa, July10, 2018.  REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

To describe Andreea Campeanu’s picture as ‘busy’ would probably be the understatement of the week. Your eye jumps from the red shirt of the barber, to the window highlight reflected in the mirror, back down the whites and blues of the customer’s shirt, up to the pattern on the ceiling, then down along the pictures of potential styles on the back wall, to the barber’s brush held and silhouetted against the mirror on the back wall. Finally, you come to rest on the gentle eyes and broad smile of the customer. It’s then you notice the next customer, seated, waiting in line, also reflected in the mirror. What an epic journey and all in such a small barber shop.   

An Internally displaced man receives care inside a barber shop in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) protection of Civilian 3 site (PoC), outside Juba South Sudan, July 12, 2018.    REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu