Friday 31 January 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, January, 31 2020

A very gentle and poignant moment captured by Nir Elias as Jona Laks, a survivor from the Holocaust, is hugged in Auschwitz. The tones and colours are muted and we are aware, by the low position in the frame of the people hugging that the background is equally important, your eye slowly drifting away from the emotion of their gesture to the number 10. Once we read the caption we know why. Read on here for Jona Laks story. 

Jona laks, survivor of Dr. Josef Mengele’s twins experiments and her grand-daughter Lee Aldar hug in front of the block number 10 which served as Mengele’s laboratory, as they visit the Auschwitz death camp in Oswiecim, Poland January 26, 2020.   REUTERS/Nir Elias

A detail picture within a detail picture very cleverly observed and shot by Aziz Taher. At first you are drawn to the reds and whites of the well-groomed and aged hand set against the cold green and blacks background of the solder. And at first glance it looks like a gentle moment of restraint. But look closely at the motif on the ring – defiance. 

A protester holds the hand of a Lebanese soldier during a protest against the political elite in Beirut, Lebanon, January 27, 2020.   REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Crowds leaning in to see a worker unearth a mass grave may seem somewhat ghoulish.  It makes for a way of illustrating the story without showing the horror. But readers are on the whole no different from those peering into the earth trying to get a glimpse of a corpse. Evrard Ngendakumana provided images that satisfy those who want to look and those who don’t. For those who do want to see, he photographed an unearthed skull being carefully tended by a worker wearing gloves, which I think softens the harshness of the image. Read on here  

Burundian workers from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission dig to extract bodies from a mass grave in Bukirasazi Hill in Karusi Province, Burundi, January 27, 2020.  REUTERS/ Evrard Ngendakumana 

A Burundian worker from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission extracts a skull from a mass grave in Bukirasazi Hill in Karusi Province, Burundi, January 27, 2020.  REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana 

Amr Abdallah Dalsh has succeeded in giving us the feeling that you are in the middle of the claustrophobic heat and noise of an Egyptian football match with his slow motion image. It’s not so slow that everyone blurs to abstraction or so fast that it’s frozen and static. 

Fans sing and chat prior to the Africa Champions League match between Al Ahly and Etoile du Sahel in Cairo, Egypt, January 26, 2020.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh 

I can’t help but be attracted to the action in Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen’s picture from clashes in Iraq. I love the backlight casting confused shadows on the road from the near silhouetted figure and I am not distracted by the lamp post and cables in the background, which I be would on most occasions, as they provide a sharp cold edge alongside the buildings. Would I have cropped the half figure on the left out of the frame? For sure, but I do like the vividness of the tear gas-filled space the protester is running into.

Demonstrators run from tear gas thrown at them during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq January 28, 2020.   REUTERS/ Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen

If you like red, you’ll love this. What you should also like in Zohra Bensemra’s picture is the compositional rush from left to right and the perfect timing where the leaders’ heads and chests remain in the light, their suits falling into shadow. And this all perfectly balanced against the guardsman in the foreground. Does he get in the way? Not really, as he’s in shadow and the highlight takes your eyes straight to the leaders’ faces a second before they too are plunged into shadow and the moment, captured by Zohra, is lost forever.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall welcomes his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal January 28, 2020.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra  

Raneen Sawafta’s picture is messy. The background is busy, the atmosphere is full of dust giving it a murky feel, the figure in the centre of the picture is not central to the action and therefore your eye jumps about in the chaos of the scene. But suddenly you see the man on the left’s finger and his eye line. You follow that line to the soldier on the right and see the open mouth and then the gun, pointing back at the man. The circle is complete and you no longer see the chaos and the dust or hear the shouting: you are just fixated on the interplay of these two people. Your imagination runs wild with dialogue. Read on here  

A Palestinian demonstrator argues with Israeli forces during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, in the Jordan valley in the Israeli-occupied west bank January 29, 2020.   REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta 

The exhaustion really comes across to me in Yamam al Shaar’s picture from Syria. Even though it’s another victory for Assad’s forces as they take control of a destroyed town, the body language in the soldier walking away within a devastated cityscape makes me sad. Not quite sure why this feeling is so powerful to me, maybe it’s the sight tilt of the head, the limp food bag or just the overall sense that this scene could be ordinary - someone walking with their lunch – but isn’t because it is set in a cityscape of destruction. Read on here

A Syrian army soldier carries food as he walks through the streets of Maraat al-Numan, Syria January 30, 2020.    REUTERS/Yamam al Shaar

Repetition of shape and line in Mohammed Salem’s image makes for a very graphic composition. Add to that the strong side light, the shaven heads and the open mouths shouting slogans and we are left in no doubt this is military training.

Palestinian police recruits loyal to Hamas shout slogans as they demonstrate their skills during a training session at a police academy in Gaza City January 30, 2020.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 

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