Friday 6 December 2019

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, December 13, 2019

As the year-end approaches I thought that I would compile some of the images that I have highlighted over the last 12 months and put it in a slideshow with music. It’s frenetic to say the least, but I hope you enjoy being visually bombarded. Click on the image below, expand to full screen, click play and hold on to your hat. Respect to the whole Reuters pictures team in the Middle East and Africa for producing such a striking set of images.

A long-term project finally published after months of hard work that involved several photographers in different counties with pictures that date from the 40s, 50s and 60s and today. A terrific set of images that bring to life quite an abstract concept: a ‘before and after’ where the ‘before’ was decades ago and the ‘after’ only exists in sense and feeling through human stories and not physical reality. This visual concept was used to illustrate the complex and pollical issue of funding UNRWA. See the whole story here

A combination picture shows young women playing basketball at the Women’s Activity Centre in Qalandia in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in this undated handout photo provided by UNRWA and Palestinian school girls playing basketball at the Women’s Activity Centre in Qalandia in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 17, 2019.  REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A combination picture shows Palestinian school girls waiting in line to collect UNRWA prepared food parcels during the first Intifada in the Gaza Strip in this handout picture believed to be taken in 1988 by UNRWA photographer Zaven Mazakian and Palestinian school girls waiting in line to collect snacks in a UNRWA-run school in the Gaza Strip September 2, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa 

A simple but effective detail picture from Ramzi Boudina catches the eye this week. Five candidates and five empty chairs seems a counter-intuitive way to illustrate the angry and bitterly contested Algerian election. The calm and cool effect of this image is created by the almost monochromatic colours and the regular spacing of the dark-toned shapes of the chair backs.

Ballot papers of the five presidential candidates are displayed at a polling station in Algiers, Algeria December 12, 2019.    REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina 

In complete contrast to the calm of the detail image above, a second picture by Ramzi of vote casting is as frenetic as it is perfectly timed. Your eye is drawn to the centre of the swirling, chaotic melee, to the crisp white voting slip and to Tebbourne’s face. If the paper was held an inch higher, the dark gap between the head and paper would dislocate face and ballot, an inch lower and the regular shape of the ballot paper would be broken, the focal point being lost. Despite the bright TV light in the background, your eye is drawn down to its reflection in the ballot box and then to the slit in the box.   

Algeria’s presidential candidate Abdelmaiid Tebbourne cast his ballot during the presidential election in Algiers, Algeria December 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina 

This is a wonderfully composed and side lit picture by Njeri Mwangi, with the subject of the image seeming to be crushed into the bottom of the frame. The visual weight of the microphone stand, police and security bear down on Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, but the highlights picking out the details of his upturned face push back just as hard. Finally, the highlight on the policeman’s blue shirt allows your eye to escape to the top of the frame, and without it you would be trapped in this visual pressure cooker.
Prison and police officers keep watch over Nairobi’s Governor Mike Sonko as he appears for a hearing on his bond application after he was arrested on corruption related charges, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya December 11, 2019,   REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi  

Many of the protests in Iraq have been bloody with more than 400 killed in recent weeks. The expectation is that you’d see images of death, injury, fires, armed security and violent clashes – all of which we have on the file. So this protest image by Essam al-Sudani comes as quite a surprise. Balloon-holding students are set against a beautiful blue sky in muted but determined protest. I really like it that you have to explore very hard to get additional detail from the picture whose shadows are dark amid the light bright. This sense is highlighted by the fact that most of the faces are covered or obscured, except one. To me this puts a human face on the crowd and I am rewarded with the detail after looking so hard.

University of Basra students carry balloons as they take part in an anti-government protest in Basra, Iraq December 8, 2019.    REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

One of the oldest tricks in the book to grab visual attention is to set a small detail against an expanse of nondescript visual noise and they eye will be drawn immediately to it. If that detail is a bright colour set against a muted background you will draw the eye; if you set a small area of high contrast against flat tones the same will be achieved. Christopher Pike has done all three. What is also interesting is that this image is somewhat counter- intuitive to the whole story, which is about caving. It took a while to shoot and was released this week – read on here 

A member of the Middle East Caving and Expeditionary Team looks that the landscape after exploring the Birdwing cave, the deepest in gulf, on Jebel Kawr near Ibri, Oman December 1, 2019.    REUTERS/Christopher Pike 

A very gentle picture that is beautifully composed and timed from Corinna Kern. The horizon line divides the image up into classic thirds. The curve of the woman’s wind-swept clothing and the position of her arms complete the sweep of compositional line of the kite and its tail. To top it all I love the position of the boy in the background that acts a as a counterweight to the slightly right-of-centre position of the woman and the solid black shape her clothing makes. 

A woman flies a kite at Katara beach, Doha, Qatar December 13, 2019.   REUTERS/Corinna Kern 

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