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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