Friday 8 May 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, May 8, 2020

Thomas Mukoya’s picture needs little explanation as to why it’s a natural pick for this week’s selection. A perfect double rainbow, arcing over the top of the iconic shape of an umbrella as a woman in a bright yellow hat looks around. What’s not to like?

A double rainbow is seen above a woman holding an umbrella and selling snacks along the road in Siaya county, Kenya May 3, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Equally in little need of explanation is Alaa al-Marjani’s fun picture. Great timing with all three boys doing back flips with the boys on the bikes forming a central compositional triangle, their wheels just crossing over. A moment later the individual shapes would have fallen into indistinguishable black shape.  

Iraqi youths wearing protective face masks use bicycles and perform a somersault as they practice parkour, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq May 3, 2020. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

A very clever and thoughtful picture from Ammar Awad that takes a little while to fully enjoy. I like the symmetrical shape that draws you into the image. But what I really like is the turn of the girl’s head, just enough so you can see her mask that covers her nose and mouth. The colours are quite muted so the red catches your eye and in the red you see a masked figure, but this mask covers the face around the eyes, leaving the nose and mouth exposed.

A girl arrives at her elementary school as it reopens following the ease of restrictions preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 3, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Mike Hutchings has hit that sweet spot of compositional line and shape tension that is so hard to achieve without the bending of the knees or standing on tip toes. Look where the peak of the surf board touches – exactly on the horizon line. The horizon is exactly on a classic third and Mike has waited for a figure to run past; thankfully the person is dressed in black as a day glow yellow or green would have distracted the eye. 

A surfer protests against the nationwide lockdown regulations due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Muizenberg beach in Cape Town, South Africa, May 5, 2020 REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

Thomas Mukoya’s picture creates a powerful sense of isolation. It’s almost cinemagraphic in its feel, like the closing scenes of a major drama where the ending was not happy. I love the rim light around the head created by the car headlights and the fact that one foot is just off the ground.

A child walks along the street at the start of the lockdown restrictions set by the government to prevent the rampant spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Eastleigh district of Nairobi, Kenya May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya 

A picture of mannequins with no clothing on them, especially when they are being carried through the street, will always catch the eye. I think it’s the momentary illusion of a shocking glimpse of nudity in a public place that grabs the attention, accompanied perhaps by a sense of shame at looking. Thomas Mukoya’s picture is a warm and affectionate street scene. It’s a bit like a challenge I once heard, and it might have even been on an episode of the Simpsons; “try listening to the William Tell Overture Finale and not thinking ‘Hi Ho Silver Away’ and the quick tempo Lone Ranger theme.” If you have no idea what I mean, click here

A trader carries his mannequins as he closes his business ahead of the lockdown restrictions set by the government to prevent the rampant spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Eastleigh district of Nairobi, Kenya May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

How much more excited can a dog get? Mohamed Salem has captured this moment perfectly; the red sound grenade highlighted against the black background, a whisp of smoke leading you back through the line of cadets, their rifles forming a regular patten. The helmets of the soldiers and the gun of the lead soldier, completing the compositional arc started by the smoke, and then you are back looking at that dog. 

A Palestinian Hamas police cadet throws a sound grenade as he demonstrates his skills with his colleagues during a graduation ceremony, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Gaza City May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

We are not quite sure what the policeman is doing with his stick but it makes for both a slightly bizarre image and a great shape. As well as being inches from the man’s head it cuts diagonally across the horizontal lines of the grill placed centrally in Baz Ratner’s picture. The grill also serves to highlight a respectful social distance between the two figures. The greens and reds add to the balance of the image.  

A police officer speaks with a man who tried to sneak past a police checkpoint, after the government announced a two weeks lockdown of the neighbourhood of Eastleigh following a jump in confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, in Nairobi, Kenya May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Diagonal lines and triangular shapes cut and chop across Mike Hutchings picture that belies its calm. To counter these compositional dynamics are the figures equally spaced providing regularity as they practice social distancing. Even though the image is shot very wide there is no escaping those white socks and black shoes, lined up to the very edge of the green line. Read on here.  

Learners observe social distancing markers as they queue at a school feeding scheme in Gugulethu township during a nationwide lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cape Town, South Africa, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

I do not have a head for heights,  so  Yorsi Ahmed’s picture of men standing in a skip hundreds of feet up, held by a single hook from a crane, makes my blood run cold. The haze in the empty sky and pale landscape set against the strong dark lines of the steel rods adds to the emptiness and the feeling of giddy heights.

Foreign workers work at a construction site, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

A sad and lonely image from Siphiwe Sibeko as people practice social distancing during a funeral. The image has a rather surreal feel as people keep their distance and you need to take the time to search out the details to work out why. The beautifully dressed woman in immaculate white shoes standing outside the tent, the woman on the right holding her scarf over her face and the man in the foreground wearing rubber gloves and a mask that is tied at the back of his head. Read on here.

Mourners keep a safe distance during the funeral service of 63-year-old Mary Modimola, as centuries-old cultural traditions at funerals are being forgone due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Soweto, South Africa, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko 

Worth a mention that Jerusalem-based Ammar Awad is part of the Pulitzer prize winning team for Breaking News Photography from the clashes in Hong Kong. Congratulations to Ammar and to the rest of the team: Tyrone Siu, Adnan Abidi, Anushree Fadnavis, Willy Kurniawan, Leah Millis, Athit Perawongmetha, Thomas Peter, Kai Pfaffenbach, Jorge Silva and Susan Vera. You can see the full story here 

A woman looks out from the window of a residence as tens of thousands of demonstrators march through Hong Kong, China on October 20, 2019, demanding autonomy and for its leaders to step down weeks after the formal withdrawal of an extradition bill. The protests were triggered in February 2019 after Hong Kong’s Security Bureau proposed amendments to extradition laws that would allow extraditions to countries, including mainland China, beyond the 20 states with which Hong Kong already has treaties. Reuters has been awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography for Hong Kong protests. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

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