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Friday, 16 August 2019

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, August 16, 2019

Strong colours and graphic shapes grab your attention immediately in Benoit Tessier’s
picture, with the open arms of the man being searched filling the clean background of the
cloudless blue sky. It also has a slightly bizarre feeling that highlights the tension of the
pat-down. What can you possibly find in such wide-open spaces that stretch to the far
horizon? I am sure there is sound reasoning behind this. Read on here.

A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment searches a man during an area control operation in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27, 2019.   REUTERS/Benoit Tessier 

Baz Ratner’s image is completely abstract and we can only guess at what is depicted in
the eye-catching swirl of hot red, orange and blacks. No figures, no real shape and no
sense of scale but you can’t help but continue to look to make sense of it, being drawn in
deeper and deeper. Once you read the caption you find out what is going on.

Lava is seen glowing inside the crater of the Nyiragongo volcano inside the Virunga national park near Goma in the Democratic republic of Congo August 9, 2019.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner 

Continuing with the theme of abstraction and moving slowly to the figurative, Feisal
Omar’s image of sheep being led to market is a pleasing graphic image with a gentle
curved composition and a strong right to left sweep to it.

Sheep are seen at a livestock market ahead of the Eid-al-Adha festival in Mogadishu, Somalia august 10, 2019.    REUTERS/Feisal Omar 

All good things come in threes so I had to complete the abstraction set with Muhammad
Hamed’s star-lit sky. The figure on the rock outcrop using a light gives us a single focal
point that both the previous images didn’t have. What has struck me is just how
comforting this focal point is and how - when it’s lacking from an image - it is missed
even if the image is strong in its overall design

A man watches the stars seen in the skies over Al-Kharza area of Wadi Rum in the south of Amman, Jordan July 27, 2019.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

A powerful and angry picture by Ammar Awad. Two policemen moving through a crowd
of struggling security forces and protesters are momentarily circled by the movement
throughout the image. The dark shapes of the uniformed men are harsh against the
pavement and the drift of tear gas, their weapons a stark focal point of the image. If the
circular composition is not enough to lead your eye to the police in the centre, the hand in
the foreground points the way.

Israel police clash with Palestinian worshippers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as temple Mount as Muslims mark Eid al-Adha in Jerusalem Old City August 11, 2019.    REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Amir Cohen’s picture is one of those images that leads you in layer after layer like a
stage set. You start with the hooded figure on the left and his book, then across to the
man in the peaked cap and his book on the right, then down to sleeping man centrally
placed and next to him another man deep in concentration in his book. All set against a
wonderful backdrop of the ancient and yellowed wall.

Jewish worshipers pray on the Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting and lament, that commemorates the date in the Jewish calendar on which it is believed the First and Second temples were destroyed, near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City August 11, 2019.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen  

Umit Bektas’ image looks like a bas-relief of white-robed figures on a rocky foreground
against a jet-black sky. The picture is drained of almost all colour and the eye is led to the
back of the image through the ever-decreasing size of the figures, which are dotted about
equally in space from foreground to far distance. This visual impression works only
because almost all the figures are uniformly clad.

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual Haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 10, 2019.    REUTERS/Umit Bektas

A very brutal image by Philimon Bulawayo from the clashes in Harare that raises many
questions. A woman lies unconscious as a red-booted, baton-holding, policeman looks
down at her as he strolls by. The viewer may leap to many conclusions. Is she dead? I
checked with the photographer and was told no, she is okay. The body language appears
so aggressive and as an image is as powerful as the violence that led up to this scene. 

A policeman walks past a woman injured during clashes after police banned protests over austerity and rising costs called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 16, 2019.  REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo 


Friday, 2 August 2019

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, August 2, 2019

It’s very hard to single out one image from this terrific story on how slaves travelled through Ghana by Siphiwe Sibeko and Francis Kokoroko that marks the 400th anniversary of the slave trade to the United States, so I won’t. Very clever composition by Siphiwe, who makes the focal point of his picture the waters of the river. This is achieved by exposing for the highlight bouncing off the river and squeezing the figures into the bottom right of the frame. It takes quite a while for your eyes to adjust to the bright light before you notice the solemn group standing in prayer in the waters. Read on here.

Tourists gather at the Assin Manso river, Ghana, July 23, 2019. Near their journey’s end in Ghana, the captives were given a last, ritual bath in the river before being sold. Today the Assin Manso site is a sacred place of remembrance.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko 

Francis Kokoroko’s portrait is a powerful, proud image created by lighting the figure with a single light source so he appears to be emerging into the light from dark shadows. The light catches every detail of the proud lines on his face. Your eye is only momentarily distracted from his face by the red decorations on his hand and the richness of the cloth before returning to that wonderful face.

Nana Assenso, 68, chief of Adidwan, a village in Ghana’s interior, looks on before visiting the grave of his uncle, Kwame Badu, in Adidwan, Ashanti Region, Ghana. His uncle’s name Kwame Badu, has been passed down through the family in remembrance of his ancestor with that same name who was captured and sold into slavery.  REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A missile strike on a parade that killed more than 30 people created a devastating and horrific scene. Fawaz Salman, confronted by this horror, photographed everything. Many pictures were far too distressing to publish but this image, taken seconds after the blast, captures the chaos and violence. The dead and the injured litter the ground, and people choke on acrid smoke as others try to help. To show mutilated bodies and bleeding wounds would not give you any more information than you can gather from this image. Fawaz has shown enough of the horror of the attack without offending the reader with gratuitous and intrusive imagery of people’s suffering. This was hard to do if you imagine his ears were still ringing from the blast that could have easily killed him too.  Read on here.  

Soldiers lie on the ground after a missile attack on a military parade during a graduation ceremony for newly recruited troops in Aden, Yemen, August 1, 2019.   REUTERS/Fawaz Salman

What appears to be a peaceful domestic scene of a woman ironing while watching TV is not all it seems. Philimon Bulawayo’s thoughtful image illustrates the 18-hour power cuts that Zimbabwe is currently facing. The cold blue light of the TV and the single overhead lamp don’t look quite right in this warm domestic scene. On reading the caption you realise why. There is only power in the middle of the night. Read on here.

Cynthia Chabwinn irons clothes late at night after electricity was restored as the country faces 18-hour daily power cuts in Harare, Zimbabwe July 30, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

There is no escaping the strong shapes that create a rhythm that drums out a beat in Khalid al-Mousily’s picture. Lucky too for Khalid (one wonders how long he waited for that to happen?) that a boy is diving off the structure, frozen in a perfect wide reversed V, adding the extra detail needed to make this image work.    

An Iraqi youth dives into the Euphrates river near Norias (water-wheels) or as called in Iraq ‘al-Nawaeer’ in Hit Iraq, July 23, 2019.   REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily 

This is just a fun, uplifting picture that makes me smile. Upturned faces and applauding hands lead you into the picture. Then the bobbing orange balloons take you up and then back down to the sea of smiling faces. If Njeri Mwangi had taken this image an instant later, cropping even the tiniest sliver off the top balloon, the moment would have been destroyed.  

Workers at the DusitD2 Hotel celebrate during its reopening ceremony since its closure following an attack by Al Shabaab-affiliated militant group that killed at least 21 people in Nairobi Kenya, July 31, 2019.   REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

Stunned migrants seem to stumble as they come ashore after being rescued from a boat that had overturned, killing dozens. It took me a while to understand why this image works so well. Then it hit me. Ismail Zitouny has used a low camera angle and a slight tilt to the horizon to create his effect. A sad and desperate scene that is out of step with the beauty of the blue skies and the clear warm seas. 

Migrants are seen after being rescued by the Libyan coast guard off the coast of Tripoli, Libya July 26, 2019.   REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

This, in terms of composition, is a very noisy and messy picture. Your eye is grabbed by the green in the background and the letters LET’S REP on the black t-shirt in the foreground. Your mind is desperately trying to work out what it means. Half the word is missing, the woman in the middle distance is looking into the camera and there is a  truncated hand with bitten nails and old nail varnish on the left. It’s then the noise turns to silence and you see the woman saluting, her hand and face strong and still, held in silent respect.      

A woman salutes during the funeral of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis, Tunisia July 27, 2019.   REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi 



Thursday, 25 July 2019

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


August this year is the 400th anniversary of the start of the slave trade to North America. To mark this date one of several stories Reuters is working on are artefacts from the slave period. Ancient things in cabinets rarely make for good images but one image that will haunt me, and not because I shot it (a rare thing these days) is the “Brookes” slave ship illustration. Using a narrow depth of field, I have tried to single out an individual packed on the boat with hundreds of others to humanize him. The details in the original drawing are spectacular. It’s as if every figure is a personal portrait and makes us feel as if we know them. If this was shot too wide the figures become unidentifiable, but too tight and you lose the sense of the vast numbers involved. Read on here.

A section of a print of the Brookes Slave Ship diagram dated 1791 forms part of the collection in the Wilberforce House Museum in Hull, Britain, July 5, 2019. According to the museum the print is arguably one of the most recognisable images from the campaign to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Britain. The publication of this image provided the public with a clear visual representation of conditions on board slave ships for the first time. August 2019 marks 400 years when the slave trade to North America began.   REUTERS/Russell Boyce

Emerging from a hole dug by hand, a miner brings up a shovel of earth that may or may not contain gold. Zohra Bensemra’s picture is as compelling and compassionate as it is claustrophobic. Every element is there, the perfect shovel shape, the miner’s lamp on his head, the black and dangerous chasm, and, most importantly, the glimpse of determination in his eyes. But there is more to this than meets the eye and that is why it’s taken months to get this story out. The gold comes at a price -  Read on  


An Informal gold miner carries a shovel as he climbs out from inside a gold mining pit at the site of the Nsuaem-Top, Ghana November 24, 2018. Zohra Bensemra 

Bloody and brutal with an eerie sense of isolation and silence. This is what strikes me most with Afolabi Sotunde’s image from the clashes in Nigeria. Why is this? Very rarely do you see a dead body in the street in complete isolation; there are usually emergency services, other demonstrators or even just bystanders, all usually part of the chaotic deadly scene.   

A member of the Shi’ite movement lies dead after a Shi’ite movement group set fire to an ambulance and fire engine station at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria July 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde 

Bold and simple, great shape, great colour and ‘mini me’ feel to James Akena’s portrait picture lifts it above the ordinary. If I were to be really picky I’d like Bobi to be a little smaller in the frame so you can see both the eyes fully in the image behind him, but I won’t be picky.    

Ugandan musician turned politician. Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, addresses a news conference at his home in Kasangati, Kampala, Uganda July 24, 2019.    REUTERS/James Akena

Just because I am a big fan of the quirky, where objects are in place but out of context -  cars in swimming pools, boats on roofs - I can’t resist armoured vehicles under cool blue water photographed by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority. Find out why they are underwater here

Jordanian Armed Forces vehicles lay on the seabed of the red Sea off the coast of southern port city of Aqaba, as part of a new underwater military museum, Jordan in this handout picture obtained July 23, 2019. Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority/Handout via REUTERS

Ammar Awad’s mysterious image of smoke swirling around a building works as the window is just about the only sharp-edged shape you can see through the soft blur of smoke. This contrast creates a momentary focal point. If the picture had been taken a little earlier, the building would not be fully enveloped by the smoke, a moment later, the window would be obscured and the focal point lost.  

Palestinian building is blown up by Israeli forces in the village of Sur Baher which sits on either side of the Israeli barrier in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank July 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

A great combination sequence picture by Mussa Qawasma from the same scene as Ammar’s picture above tells the same story but in a different way. Each element is perfectly captured. With the still images, every detail can be examined closely. For sure it would be great to see video of this, but then you would not be able to look at every detail closely, see what it looked like before, followed by the blast, the smoke and then the destruction.    

A combination picture shows a Palestinian building as it is blown up by Israeli forces in the village of Sur Baher which sits on either side of the Israeli barrier in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank July 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

As far as the eye can see there are football fans surrounding the victory parade bus in Ramzi Boudina’s picture. Are the arms raised in adoration or is it that just about everyone is holding up a mobile phone to take pictures and shoot video. Either way it really doesn’t matter as what it does achieve is to make the bus take on the appearance of a boat slowly sailing away from white cliffs through a sea of waving arms.  

Football fans surround a bus during a victory parade to celebrate Algeria winning the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Algiers, Algeria July 20, 2019.    REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina  





Friday, 19 July 2019

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

It’s too hard to choose a single image from a series of pictures the team shot at the Africa Cup of Nations to show the emotions around a goal being scored, so I’ve picked two – from  anguish to jubilation. Francis Kokoroko’s picture of the stunned faces for me says it all, open-mouthed utter disbelief. The curve of the shadow folding in closer and closer to the fan in centre of the image. I imagine this stunned look went on for quite a few seconds, giving Francis time to maybe even reposition himself to get a better angle to work the light.  


Football fans react after Tunisia’s Rami Bedoui scored an own goal during their Africa Cup of nations (Afcon) match against Ghana, as they watch the match on a screen in Elmina, Ghana July 8, 2019.   REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko 

On the other hand Zohra Bensemra would have had no time at all to capture the rapturous  excitement in the boys’ faces as they celebrate a goal. The direct eye contact means you are right there in this moment of manic joy. To see the rest of the images click here 



Senegal fans celebrate after Sadio mane scores a goal during the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Round of 16 match against Uganda in Dakar, Senegal July 5, 2019.    REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

Corinna Kern’s picture is a “what on earth is going on here?” picture which makes you want to know more. Corinna, who has been working on this project for several weeks, has avoided the temptation of shooting this too tight on the masks of the performers. Instead she lets the black frame of the doorway draw you in. The benefit of this is that we get to see the stark “stage”, which is actually a bus station. It’s at this point we realise this image is almost monochromatic. Read on here for more quirky images.      


Lior Avshalem, 42 and Rotem Cohen, 41 actors from the Mystorin Theatre Ensemble, perform is the group’s show ‘Seven’ a site specific act that uses all seven floors of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel may 25, 2019.    REUTERS/Corinna Kern 


An almost intrusive picture taken by Olivia Acland using a wide-angle lens forces the viewer into the space and mind of the woman who is being tested for signs of fever, a symptom of Ebola. She avoids our stare, but we get a such a powerful sense of fear and apprehension that we hardly notice the visual noise in the background.


A health worker checks the temperature of a woman as part of the Ebola screening when entering the General Hospital in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo July 15, 2019.    REUTERS/Olivia Acland

The colours, line of design and shape in Cooper Inveen’s picture are just irresistible. The line of the hedge sends your eye racing to the focal point of the girls sheltering under a red umbrella. If the diagonal line of the hedge was not enough we have the run of glistening water on the muddy track to also draw us to the huddle of girls. The complimentary colours of red and green shimmer against each other while the warm  tones in the road and clothing counter the damp weather. Ideally, the post behind the trees wouldn’t be there, but the world is far from perfect. Read about Mariatu Sesay here. 


Mariatu Sesay, 15, walks home with her school mates in a countryside village in Sierra Leone. REUTERS/Cooper Inveen


Cold and stark is probably the best way to describe Ahmed Jadallah’s image of the aircraft carrier USS Boxer. The tones are grey and cold, all colour has been bleached out of the image by the strong overhead and slightly hazy light. Our eye moves away from the menacing black shape of the vessel, looking for warmth in the empty space, but all we see is a tanker in the distant haze. 


USS Boxer (LHD-4) ship sails near a tanker in the Arabian Sea off Oman July 17, 2019.   REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah 


Tiksa Negri’s image is a potent display of political defiance: a youth leader, draped in a flag, stands in front of a sea of faces that stretches back to the far horizon. For me the power of the scene is in the fact everyone is seated on the ground, you sense that the crowd is silent, listening. The clean colours and vertical lines of the flag cape cut through the sea of faces, the top line of the flag matches the horizon, the youth’s head is almost lost in the background of the trees.   


A Sidama youth leader carrying a flag addresses people as they gather for a meeting to declare their own region in Hawassa, Ethiopia July 17, 2019.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

I kept coming back to Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s image and I wasn’t sure why. It doesn’t have people in it, but the eye on the sarcophagus seems to follow you around the room, like something out of a B horror movie. I took the time to look harder, then it struck me: the face looks like that of a child who has just woken up too soon and is in that mysterious transition period between sleep and wakefulness. What do you think

A sarcophagus that was discovered during archaeological excavations near the King Amenemhat II pyramid is displayed during a presentation of the find, south of Cairo, Egypt July 13, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany



Shafiek Tassiem’s picture has an air of tension about it. Perhaps obvious since it shows   two soldiers in full gear on the paved streets, but I think it’s more than the obvious that creates this feeling. Maybe it’s the clever symmetrical composition using the barred windows, the soldiers placed equally apart. Maybe it’s the line that cuts the image horizontally in half that is not comfortable for the eye?  Then there’s the slow shutter speed blurring the figure in the foreground, so the person seems to be hurrying past. I’m still not sure but looking at this image I feel apprehensive.   

Soldiers patrol as they are deployed to quell gang violence in Manenberg township Cape Town South Africa July 18, 2019.   REUTERS/ Shafiek Tassiem

Friday, 12 July 2019

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, July 12, 2019


A stark and simple portrait by Umit Bektas with the subject staring you right in the eye. She is isolated in the foreground by strong highlights with the background falling into shadow. Her unfaltering stare is strong and determined, but her body language defensive, which leaves us wanting to know more. She is one of many women who were beaten and abused in Sudan during their fight for freedom. Read on here

Shems Osman, 32, employee at an international company, poses for a photograph in Khartoum, Sudan, June 29, 2019.    REUTERS/Umit Bektas


When you look at Clarel Faniry Rasoanaivo’s picture it’s hard not to hold your breath. Every element is frozen in time, waiting for the next explosive second. The keeper is poised for the shot, the goal mouth gaping open except for his tiny figure. The striker’s toes are curled up in sandals, their shadow falling on the ball. His right leg is bent back ready to release the shot, and his hand reaches down into the frame for balance, just filling the blue space of the sky created by striking leg. We all know what’s going to happen next, but the anticipation is wonderfully captured in this warm picture.      

Malagasy children play soccer on a pitch in Ankazobe town in the Analamanga Region Madagascar, July 10, 2019.  REUTERS/ Clarel Faniry Rasoanaivo

What better way to mark the first anniversary of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea than a quick game of football, with junked buses and trucks marking the edge of the pitch. A wonderfully hopeful and well seen picture by Tiksa Negeri that gives me the feeling that what was bad is in the past and now is the time to look forward to better things, even if you are playing football barefoot in the dust.  

Eritreans play soccer as they celebrate the first anniversary of the reconciliation of Eritrea and Ethiopia in Mekele. Tigray Region, Ethiopia July 7, 2019.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

A strong composition of diagonal lines making up an extended triangle gives Ako Rasheed’s picture a very solid and powerful feel. And that’s even before you take on board the subject matter. In step, these women soldiers march forward, weapons trained on an imaginary enemy, a solid and powerful force.  

A group of Iranian Kurdish women, who have joined Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, take part in a training session in a military camp in Erbil, Iraq, July 9, 2019.    REUTERS/Ako Rasheed


I have no idea just how long Sumaya Hisham had to wait, or how many frames it took, to get this perfectly framed moment. Whatever it took it was worth it. Like someone coming up for air in a sea of blue, this fan wearing giant yellow glasses is momentarily glimpsed, mouth open, singing at full volume. Catch up with the latest from AFCON here 

A Mali fan sings prior to their Round of 16 Africa Cup of Nations match against Ivory Coast in Suez, Egypt, July 8, 2019.    REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

If I said zig zag zig zag you’d know exactly what I was going on about with Amir Cohen’s picture. Now take the time to look carefully. He shot this using a low shutter speed so the sea has blurred to appear like a deep purple carpet, allowing us to see details that would otherwise fall into deep shadow during this half-light time. Some of the figures have blurred too, but not the central focal point of the seated figure, who sits there, static and immovable, like King Canute.

A power station is seen in the background as beach goers are seen along the shore of the Mediterranean Sean in the evening at a beach in Ashkelon, Israel July 7, 2019.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen

A simple crowd-pleasing optical illusion from Mohamed Abd El Ghany is an easy pick for the week, hard to choose as there have been so many great images from AFCON. What makes this work so well as an illusion is that player Adrien Melvin seems to be watching the line of the giant ball and not the actual ball, and his leg position just could not be better. 

Madagascar’s Adrien Melvin in action durng their Round of 16 Africa Cup of nations against DR Congo in Alexandria, Egypt, July 7, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

It would have been good enough for Mohamed Azakir to photograph the workers framed through the broken windows as they demolish huts, the hammer poised in mid-air and clear to see. But to have the boy in the shadows watching gives the image added strength and mood. It changes it from a ‘men at work’ image to ‘a home being destroyed’ image.


Workers use hammers to dismantle concrete huts at a makeshift Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon July 4, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

I am not a great fan of ‘people walking past a picture’ to make a picture, but there is no getting away from the graphic immediacy of Nazanin Tabatabaee’s image. You are in no doubt about where this is, nor are you in any doubt about the political message in the mural, so given the tensions between Iran and the United States, it’s a very good illustrative image. 

A woman walks in front of a mural depicting the Statue of Liberty in Tehran, Iran, July 7, 2019.  Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS    




Friday, 28 June 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, June 28, 2019

Anger flares in Mussa Qawasma’s picture that has a feeling of being bad tempered, hot and sweaty. A strong oval and diagonal composition created by the helmets and position of the arms draws us into the centre of the image. The strong sunlight catches the sweat on the face of the man who is held back by his friends as he confronts the Israeli forces. 

A Palestinian demonstrator scuffles with Israeli forces during a protest against Bahrain’s workshop for U.S peace plan, in Bethlehem, in the Israeli occupied West Bank June 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma 

I’ve selected Mohamed Abd Al-Ghany’s football celebration for no better reason that it’s just fun and a lovely shape. The players look like a well-rehearsed dance troupe coming on stage for the opening of a show. Do they practice these moves?  Who knows? But whatever they do it works, it’s fun and makes a great lighthearted picture. 

Madagascar’s Romain Metanire, Ima Andriatsima and team mates celebrate thei goal against Guinea during the Africa Cup of nations in Alexandria, Egypt June 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Deeper and deeper and deeper you are drawn into Umit Bektas’ picture of the boy posing for a picture, through the U-shaped curve of the camel’s neck, past the armed soldiers to the people on camels in the distance. The clean skyline ensures we are not distracted by any visual noise.   

A supporter of Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council and head of parliamentary rapid Support Forces (RSF), holds his portrait as he rides his camel before a meeting in Aprag village, near Khartoum, Sudan June 22, 2019.    REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Okay nit-pick time, how much on a scale of 1-10 do you think Baz Ratner would like the foot of the soldier in the centre of the picture not be to be covered by the soldier in the foreground? I am prepared to bet about 9. It’s almost as if the soldier is looking down at the offending appendage in this otherwise perfectly balanced image.     

Honour guards march after the memorial ceremony for the Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Often the most eye-catching subject is an object out of context, a boat on a roof or a car in a swimming pool. An upside-down tank in a stream also fits this category, especially when it is photographed with a slow exposure so the water blurs to give it a rather mystical and dreamlike feel.  Ronen Zvulun’s picture is part of a series of pictures titled “Land Scars”, that documents sites, buildings and objects that all form part of the long history of conflict and failed peace processes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The series has taken weeks to shoot and was published to mark the start of the Bahrain Workshop, the latest attempt to break the deadlock.You can read on here.  

A Syrian tank lies over turned in the Hermon steam in Banias Nature Reserve on the western edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan heights February 27, 2019.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

There is no escaping the strong symmetrical shape to Tiksa Negri’s funeral picture. The rope holding the coffin and the compositional lines created by the people lowering the coffin form almost perfect diagonals that lead your eye from the corners of the frame to the grave. It gives the image a strangely serene feeling, but take a moment to look at the struggle, pushing and shoving that is taking place on the outer reaches of the image, nothing serene there. Now consider the effort it must have taken Tiksa to get into the position to shoot this perfectly shaped image.  

Pallbearers bury the flag-draped coffin carrying the body of Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff, Seare Mekonnen during his funeral in Mekele, Ethiopia June 26, 2019.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

A cold, lonely and painful image by Ismail Zitouny from Libya created by the blues of the wall, the cold white light and a complex, busy composition. Your eye wanders around the messy image trying to make sense of the tubes, cables, a confusing vertical shape and a slight tilt to the horizontal lines all of which add to your sense of unease. It’s then that you spot the injured solder, laid out flat, alone and bloodied on what looks like a very uncomfortable bed. A second soldier, goes almost unnoticed on the bed on wheels but at least he has a slightly thicker mattress to lay on.   

Injured soldiers of the eastern forces led by Khalifa Haftar. Lay on beds at the Gharyan hospital, south of Tripoli, Libya June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny



Friday, 14 June 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, June 14, 2019


Light streaming through holes into a smoke-filled workshop is going to work as a picture every time. What Mohammed Salem has done is to show a worker walking through the rays of light, the timing perfect so the beams of light don’t cut across his face. Enjoy this peaceful, calm image of daily toil.    

A Palestinian worker carries clay pots as sun rays penetrate through the ceiling of a pottery workshop in Gaza City June 11, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 

In complete contrast of mood, but taken on the same day as Mohamed’s picture above, the grief in Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture crashes into your consciousness and leaves you with a feeling of desperation and sadness. The boy’s hand tenderly touches his dead father’s face as he looks down weeping and distraught, his other hand gripped tight in tension as he is lifted above the chaos of the funeral. We can only guess at the feelings going through the boy’s mind, but this sad and powerful moment is captured forever.  

The son of Palestinian paramedic Mohamed Al-Judaily, who died of wounds he sustained during a protest at the Israeli-Gaza border fence, reacts as he looks at his father’s body during his funeral in the central Gaza strip, June 11, 2019.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa



I won’t attempt to lift the spirits after Ibraheem’s picture but will bombard you with more distressing news and raise an ethical issue with an image from the same day as those above. A village in Mali was attacked, with the death toll ranging from 35 to nearly 100 depending on who was citing the numbers. What was agreed is that more than 20 children were killed. We have images of the dismembered and charred bodies but they are considered too distressing to publish. To give a sense of the death and destruction we published this poignant image below, the dead body of a thin farm animal, ashes all that is left of building. You get a sense of what happened without being exposed to the grisly images of dead people. It’s always hard to decide what should be seen in such instances – after all, who wants to see dead children? Or is this a case that calls for “seeing is believing” and for the publication of the images? I think not. Read on here 

A dead animal is seen amidst the damage at the site of an attack on the Dogon village of Sobane Da, Mali June 11, 2019.    REUTERS/Malick Konate

A very nicely seen image by Baz Ratner at a mock funeral by environmental activists. You eye is drawn quickly to the clever black and white logo pasted on a fake black coffin. The only real colour of the image, the red of the protester’s nail varnish, holds g our attention. Your eye then moves right in the frame to see her masked face, her eyes serious as she carries her message.  

Greenpeace environmental activist carries a fake coffin during a protest against the construction of a coal fired electricity plant in Lamu on Kenya’s coast, during a protest in Nairobi, June 12, 2019.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner  

I am a big fan of simple shapes and strong lines in composition. Add a strong red colour with a hint of complementary green and the sound of a military band, as Afolabi Sotunde has done, and he hits all the right buttons. If I was after perfection I would have liked a little more space on the top right, so the arm of the leading soldier pointed into the corner of the frame and we would not crop off the small figure, also in green on the right.

Police officers are seen on parade during the new Democracy Day, a national holiday in honour of late M.K.O Abiola, in Abuja, Nigeria, June 12, 2019.  REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde



Samuel Mambo’s picture structure is all about sharp edges and it has an eerie feel to it. The clean corner of the wall, the strong wide V-shape line of the path, the white highlights of the workers’ clothing against the background shadows and, if you look carefully, the fold lines in the newly opened aprons of the medical staff. Staff are getting ready to fight Ebola. The uneasy feeling is created by compositionally awkward position of the figures in the chopped-up space and the man’s gloved hands that are clasped together, giving the image a pensive feel. Read on here 

Ugandan medical staff are seen as they inspect the Ebola preparedness facilities at the Bwera General Hospital near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwera, Uganda, June 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Samuel Mambo