Friday 15 February 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa February 15, 2019

It’s not easy to illustrate load-shedding, more commonly known as power cuts, especially when it’s still daylight and small generators are used to create power and light. But Mike Hutchings has made good use of the backlight from inside a shop to draw you deep into this image.

A shop assistant stands in the doorway of a party goods store during an electricity load-shedding black out in Johannesburg, South Africa, February 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

I am a great fan of pictures that are confusing and where it takes a little while to sort out in your mind’s eye what is really going on. Luc Gnago’s image is a good example. The green hats spring immediately into focus but only slowly do you get to make shapes of limbs under the white cloth. I still don’t quite know what the dark brown rods are but I don’t think that really matters. It’s a fun pre-election picture only slightly spoiled by the rather annoying yellow shape in the background, that I will choose to ignore.  

Supporters of the people’s democratic party (PDP) perform wearing hats with PDP branding during a campaign rally in Lagos, Nigeria February 12, 2019.  REUTERS/Luc Gnago

As attractive to me as confusion are simple compositional graphic shapes and lines and this well is illustrated in Taibat Ajiboye’s portrait of a young Nigerian voter. The lines of the roofs and the foundations of the houses draw you into the frame, where you are abruptly stopped by the solid back shape of the umbrella, framing the youthful face of the young woman. The brief was simple: Photograph a first-time voter and ask three simple questions about their expectations of the election. Taibat has gone the extra mile. You can see the full set of portraits and Q&A’s here

Noimot Shuaib Ajoke, 18-year-old first time voter, carries her child as she poses for a picture in Malete in Kwara state, Nigeria February 5, 2019.   REUTERS/Taibat Ajiboye 

Mohamed al-Sayaghi’s image frame it without being the central part of it. This framing also gives is a slight sense that we are intruding. We are stopped in our tracks just before we enter the picture. This of course is not the case. We are most welcome, so come on in and enjoy the steamy warmth. The next surprise is that from the caption we learn this is in Sanaa, Yemen. 

People have Turkish bath at a newly-opened traditional Turkish-style steam bath in Sanaa, Yemen February 8, 2019.   REUTERS/ Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Okay, okay, it’s a simple picture about shapes, mainly triangles, big ones, small ones, the pyramids, big and small, the small black shape of the man’s arms and the space created between his legs as he struggles against the wind. He is placed perfectly between in the V of the space between the pyramids. I like it too that the picture stomps its way from left to right, the line and base of the pyramid on the right meeting the edge of the frame at the exact same point.  

A man walks in front of the Great Pyramids in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, February 15, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Love is in the air, or maybe not. Your eye dances about, confused, not quite sure why you can’t quite read all the words in Dylan Martinez’s picture. It’s how I imagine a dyslectic may see pages of text as the letters rotate in the shop window. Finally, they stop rotating in your mind’s eye and you see LOVE and the boy peering into the shop window set against the deliberately over-exposed background. Happy Valentine’s Day.   

A youngster walks past a shop selling LOVE signs, chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day in Gaza City, February 14, 2019.   REUTERS/Dylan Martinez 

It takes a little time to spot anything in Ammar Awad’s picture that you would not see if it had been taken two hundred years ago. Maybe the metal chair in the background? Maybe not. It takes a little time to see the scaffolding, top left. This timeless feel,  brought about by the aged yellow of the brickwork, the tired and ancient paintwork and the warmth it radiates, makes me want to look and look at this picture. What is nice is that this image is part of a story about joint Israeli and Palestinian tour guides for the Old City, which you can see here.

An Ethiopian Orthodox priest sits outside the Ethiopian section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City February 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

I feel somewhat claustrophobic when I look at Philimon Bulawayo’s image of a rescue worker at a collapsed gold mine. Surrounded by others watching, the rescuer looks ill-equipped for the task at hand, the mud caked on his tensed arms, hands and face as he lifts himself from the tiny gap of the mine shaft entrance. The picture gives me the feeling there is little hope for those trapped and buried.  Full story here 

A rescuer climbs out of a mine shaft as rescue efforts proceed for trapped illegal gold miners in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, February 15, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

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