Friday 27 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa July 27, 2018

I just needed to add Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s star spangled picture of the 'Blood Moon'. What I like so much about this is that Mohamed has approached this differently know that there would be many images of the moon in its red state through out the region. By using a long exposure and tripod he has put the lunar eclipse in the context of the cosmos and man. I feel this drives home just how small we look with our little electric light and digital technology. See more lunar eclipse pictures here

A Man takes pictures during the ‘Blood Moon’ lunar eclipse in the desert of Al Fayoum Governorate, south west of Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Baz Ratner’s picture of people watching as slum homes are destroyed to make way for a road has a slightly uncomfortable yet familiar feel to it. How often have you peered through fencing to watch construction work, or those of you who have toddlers would have more than likely entertained them with a trip to look at the ‘diggers’ and ‘workmen’. Although a very busy and complex image we are drawn into it from the strong dark tones in the foreground, through to the centrally placed figures wearing red in the middle ground up to the hazy distance of a mechanical digger tearing at the makeshift buildings in the dust. What is slightly uncomfortable is that this is the destruction of the homes of some of the poorest in the city. Read on here.

Onlookers watch as bulldozers demolish houses to make way for a new road in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, July 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The only way to describe Luc Gnago’s picture from the bus station in Mali is an explosion of light and colour. I am excited and exhausted as my eye races around this busy scene. Any colour you like is there. I so want to be there in the hustle and bustle, and I am not even worried by his shadow cast on the back of the green minibus or is that the shadow of the woman with the sack on her head? 

People hurry as they move to and from mini buses at the bus station in the evening light in Bamako, Mali, July 24, 2018.    REUTERS/Luc Gnago

I can’t help but think of the sun-dried bones of a prehistoric dinosaur when looking at the building in Tiksa Negri’s picture from Eritrea. I like the beauty and magnificence of the building destroyed by conflict and baked for years by the sun. It’s the same heat that the person carrying a table is sheltering from.  

A man carries a table as he walks past the ruins of a building in the port city of Massawa, Eritrea July 22. 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negri

What is exciting is that we are now getting pictures out of Eritrea after years of no access. I love the pool of light which draws the viewer straight to the figures crossing the road silhouetted by the single car heading towards us. I sense that Tiksa Negri’s night street scene picture is really quite illustrative of the issues confronting the country and the capital, Asmara. The fact that the streets are hardly lit demonstrates the extent of the poverty the country is facing. 

An Eritrean couple walk along a street at night in Asmara, Eritrea July 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negri

In very much the same vein as the picture above, a small detail in a wide, even-toned space will catch your eye and you will look closely into it. With Ammar Awad’s powerful picture of a warplane in an attack dive you need to study it even more closely. Only then will you spot the two bombs released from the aircraft - destruction and possible death only seconds away.  

A warplane carries out a bombing run above Syria near the Israeli-Syrian border as seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan heights Israel, July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The strong light and the shallow depth of field in Suhaib Salem’s picture create an almost abstract swirl of body shapes, faces and hands that finally draws you to the face of the grieving woman. Once your eye settles on her, you look deeper into the grief. Her arms are tightly wrapped around the man, squeezing hard. It’s then you notice the hand from the almost invisible woman standing passively on the left, fingers digging into her brow, we assume, trying to rub her grief away.   

Relatives of Palestinian militant Abu Dakah, 31, who was killed in an Israeli strike, mourn during his funeral in Khan Younis in the Southern Gaza strip July 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

One normally associates the rainbow colours with LGBT and gay rights demonstrations, but not so in Corinna Kern’s haunting picture. Most colour has been taken out of the image as Corinna shoots through a transparent banner that has Netanyahu’s face printed on it. The image has the look of video frozen in transition as you fade from one sequence to the next. 

Israeli national flags can be seen through a banner with a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a LGBT community members protest against the discriminatory surrogate bill in Tel Aviv, Israel July 22, 2018.   REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Strong colours, strong lines of design and a flow and counter flow all balance in Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture to make you feel like you are on a powerful tide of people moving from left to right and back again. Everyone is looking from right to left in this picture, their arms all leading in the same direction, a seething mass of people. But the main figure looks in the opposite direction, her face held motionless in the strong light. She seems to be beckoning to the army of people from Zimbabwe: Onwards, onwards!    

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s opposition party attend a rally in Chitungwiza, outside the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, July 26, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The inclusion of a second picture from the same story by the same photographer is rare in my weekly round-up, but I cannot resist the grace and beauty of the hands, fingers, eyes and colours in Luc Gnago’s wonderful picture of supporters at a political rally. You are immediately smitten with the beauty of the woman in profile with the red head scarf. You then feel as if you are in a complex and delicate dance that involves half glances of eyes through veils that finger and hand movements momentarily reveal. Count the number of eyes you can see but where you can’t see the full face; include in that count the posters too and you will maybe understand how I got this impression. Read on here.

Supporters of candidate Aliou Diallo, leader of the Democratic Alliance for Peace (Alliance Democratique pour la paix, or ADP-MALIBA) Party, attend an election rally in Bamako, Mali, July 26, 2018.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Amr Abdullah Dalsh uses the simple technique of back focusing that draws you immediately to the point of the picture, a portrait of a son. The ugly top stark lighting in the room not only highlights the picture in the black frame against a white wall but also darkens the eyes of the parents as they recount their story of their arrested son. The mood is very somber. Shawkan, their son, faces the death penalty. Read on here.

A photograph of jailed Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as ‘Shawkan’ is seen behind his parents at their home in Cairo, Egypt July 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Friday 20 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East & Africa July 20, 2018

I can’t decide if Amir Cohen is lucky or unlucky to be close enough to an Iron Dome missile system to capture its launch during a mortar attack, but either way it’s a striking picture. What adds to the strength of this image is that the photographer was quick enough to not only capture the missile’s launch but keep in the frame an equally lucky/unlucky person to give it scale and drama.  

An Israeli man looks on as Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon July 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen

No less striking a moment is captured by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture of an airstrike in Gaza on the same day as the Iron Dome launch. The ball of fire and great plumes of smoke are see in the terrifying context of city buildings all around. Stepping away from the actual news story that this was the worse exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza since 2014, and looking at this in pure visual terms, like the dark shapes in the foreground, it gives it scale and places it in a city. I did have a look at a tighter crop of the ball of fire as a focal point of the picture but think at the end of the day the wider image tells the story better. What do you think?   

An explosion is seen following an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza City July 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

An editor’s crop has transformed Philimon Bulawayo’s picture from vertical to  horizontal but also removed wasted white space at the top, drawing your eye to Chamisa’s face and the outstretched hands. What you do lose is the sense of the enormous crowds and the people who have climbed the pylon in the background. For my money I like the tighter crop. You may differ. 

Zimbabwe’s opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa is greeted by supporters at a rally at Sakubva stadium in Mutare, Zimbabwe, July 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Sometimes you look and look at a picture and think something is a little out of place but can’t quite put your finger on what. Thomas Mukoya’s picture is one such image. The harsh light creates a complex set of shapes and colours, the hat, silhouetted figures, the pink shirt with writing on it you can’t make out and the tents, all make it hard for the eye to settle. Then slowly it dawns: the US flags have been attached to their poles back to front.  

Residents wave the U.S. national flag as the chant slogans as they walk along the road prior to the visit by former U.S. president Barack Obama to his ancestral home, Nyangoma Kogelo village, in Siaya county, western Kenya, July 16, 2018.   REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture breaks all the rules. You have a flat line that cuts the image in half, top to bottom; large empty black spaces; faces looking out of the frame so close to the edge of the picture you sense they are going to bump their heads. And yet it works wonderfully. 

Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the 16th Nelson Mandela annual lecture, marking the centenary of the anti-apartheid leader’s birth in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 17, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

 We encourage photographers when they are shooting a story to make sure to include a detail picture. In my mind a detail picture is an image of something small that might easily go unseen but is quite revealing. It doesn’t have to be a closeup but often it is. Ari Jalal’s picture is quite abstract when you look at it in its entirety and turns the notion of detail on its head. You see a wide picture, horizonal line cutting the image in half with two slabs of toned colour, a ‘button’ casting a shadow in the top centre and small patches of colour. You have to look closely to see the patches of colour are hand prints and signatures of patients. Now you take the time to look at each of the hand prints and try to read the writing of each individual’s story.  

A mural of painted hands and messages from wounded people, who have recovered and have been discharged from the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Mosul, Iraq, July 10, 2018.   REUTERS/Ari Jalal

One can only imagine the feelings you must have as a father hugging your daughters after being separated for 18 years, but Tiksa Negeri captures this moment forever. A very quiet image that needs a caption to explain it but you immediately get a sense of the powerful and tight embrace, as his daughters are held close and tight, their faces pressed to his chest. When you look into the shadows of the image, its real beauty comes alive, the sisters looking into each other’s tear-stained eyes, one with her hand on her father’s chest, just inside his jacket, where she can feel his heart beat. The lines on his face speak to me of years of worry and separation. You can see more heart-warming pictures from Asmara here

Adisalem Abu, reacts as he embraces his daughters, after meeting them for the first time in eighteen years at the Asmara International Airport after Ethiopian Airlines flight ET314 arrived in Asmara, Eritrea July 18, 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The woman in the blue head scarf in Khalil Ashawi’s picture looks like she is frozen in time. Her mind and eyes are a thousand miles away, her sleeping baby is held close. Even though the picture is busy with the swirl of activity around her, your eye is drawn to the central point of her face. You are not distracted by the boy in the blue shirt, the white highlight to the left or the purple head scarf, you just keep coming back to that face.   

People are evacuated from the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, Syria, July 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Khail Ashawi

Friday 13 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa July 13, 2018

There is no escaping the feeling that Ronen Zvulun’s picture is more than a little bizarre. Five people dressed the same, sitting on what looks like a precipice, legs daggling into the abyss looking into Syria. Once you get past looking at the raised arms and wondering why they are doing that, your gaze is propelled to the far horizon through blue skies to a haze that might be created by the clashes near the border or could just be banks of cloud. 

Israeli Druzes sit together watching the Syrian side of the Israel-Syrian border on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel, July 7 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

Feisal Omar’s picture is a powerful news picture in a classic sense: it’s full of action and drama. Armed men rush through bomb-damaged streets; your eye races around the frame in confusion. Your attention darts from the coloured screen and reds and blacks of the tuk tuk, to the shadows and harsh vertical lines of the grey concrete building behind, back to the gunman on the left, and finally to the three men on the right, with their weapons held at the ready.  You can see the full sequence of pictures here

Somali security agents take position as they secure the scene of a suicide car bombing near Somalia’s Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Alaa Al-Fakir’s picture is all about perseverance and determination. The small girl labors in the heat of the overhead sun at what seems her impossible task of pushing a wheelchair-bound elderly person over rough and barren terrain. The glimmer of hope I try to take from this picture of difficult struggle is the determination in the girl’s efforts. Using the full force of her body, she is not giving up: her legs are braced, head down and arms straight. She will succeed in helping this person less able than her. 

An internally displaced girl pushes a woman in a wheelchair near the Israeli-occupied Golan heights in Quneitra, Syria July 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Alaa Al-Fakir

When I look at the light and compositional structure of Ronen Zvulun’s picture I think of the American painter Edward Hopper . Warm and cold colours, strong lines and bold flat shapes fighting for equal amounts of space. The figure always perfectly positioned in the composition, but leaving us with the sense that they are slightly distant, divorced or uncomfortable, that they’d rather be elsewhere. 

A Syrian woman holds a baby as she walks into a checking room just after they crossed the armistice line to the Israeli-occupied Golan heights to get medical treatment in Israel July 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

I was impressed with Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture from Gaza for complex reasons that I will explain. Often, he covers clashes and funerals but we also need to illustrate less visually rich news stories such as financial and complex political stories about longer-term trends. On this occasion the story was China’s growing economic influence in the Middle East. Not an easy one, not one to make immediate impact but certainly one to demonstrate sophisticated visual thinking. What would you take a picture of? When a customer searches ‘China Gaza’ to illustrate the political and economic of China’s role in Gaza this image will be found. It’s a ‘slow burn’ clever picture told by the words MADE IN CHINA on the box. 

A Palestinian vendor carries a cardboard box containing toys made in China, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 10, 2018.  REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa  

Two striking and thoughtful pictures from Sumaya Hisham to illustrate the ongoing turmoil at the energy company Eskom. I love the march of the pylons appearing over the hill like an alien army. With the washed out sky, the cold steel shapes seem to be wading  through what looks like a cold sea, an effect created by the horizonal lines in the grass. Read on here about the Eskom pay deal.

Electricity pylons carrying power from Koeberg nuclear power station are near Cape Town, South Africa, July 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

And in Sumaya’s picture below I love the patches of cold blue of the cross painted in the door and the equally cold blue light in the two windows on the left countered by the warmth of the sky and the hot spots of the lights overhead. And both these pictures were used to match a financial story about pay negotiations between workers and a company. To produce such imaginative pictures from what is a relatively dry story is a mark of a great photographer.   

Overhead power lines are seen at Khayelitsha informal housing settlement near cape Town, South Africa, July10, 2018.  REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

To describe Andreea Campeanu’s picture as ‘busy’ would probably be the understatement of the week. Your eye jumps from the red shirt of the barber, to the window highlight reflected in the mirror, back down the whites and blues of the customer’s shirt, up to the pattern on the ceiling, then down along the pictures of potential styles on the back wall, to the barber’s brush held and silhouetted against the mirror on the back wall. Finally, you come to rest on the gentle eyes and broad smile of the customer. It’s then you notice the next customer, seated, waiting in line, also reflected in the mirror. What an epic journey and all in such a small barber shop.   

An Internally displaced man receives care inside a barber shop in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) protection of Civilian 3 site (PoC), outside Juba South Sudan, July 12, 2018.    REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu

Friday 6 July 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa July 6, 2018

I have an ongoing love of pictures that are based around commodities and the infrastructure associated with this industry; oil, coal, wheat and mining all top of my list. Akintunde Akinleye's picture of oil workers, wearing matching orange boiler suits and yellow helmets, dwarfed by a rusting tank, the lines of the rust dicing the frame in a regular patten, the metal steps crashing diagonally across the warm toned picture is just wonderful. I like it too that all the workers seem to have taken a break from the work at hand to have their picture taken.  

Construction workers are seen at an oil storage tank at the Dangote Oil Refinery under construction in Ibeiu Lekki district, on the outskirts of Lagos Nigeria, July 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A clever use of shape, line and pattern by Khaled Abdullah gives this image a ‘robotic machine’ feel as the students, heads down and working hard, try to achieve their best. It took me a while to work out why I got this impression, but I think it’s a combination of the reds, whites and blues all regularly spaced, the pens all tilting at the same angle, and the students all with their left hands under their desks. 

Students take their final High School exams in Sanaa, Yemen June 30, 2018.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah 

At first glance this picture is almost abstract and it takes a while to figure it out as you struggle past the bright reds and opaque blacks. Yasser Abu Al-Naia is cocooned in red and white and smothered in harsh black shadows, and hands reach up from the bottom of the picture to draw your eye to the 14-year-old’s face in Suhaib Salem’s powerful picture. Once you see that young face it’s hard to look away. I didn’t for a very long time.  

Mourners carry the body of 14-year-old Palestinian boy Yasser Abu Al-Naia who was killed by Israel forces during a protest at the Israeli-Gaza border, during his funeral in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip June 30, 2018.    REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

One of the best things about being a news photographer is seeing events unfold in front of you, so you can take great pictures for the world to see. To do that you need to be in places that many cannot go to and that too is very attractive. Feisal Omar takes advantage of this opportunity to stand on a red carpet in front of a full parade of police on Independence Day to take a carefully composed picture balancing the red stripe of the carpet with the white lines on the ground. Shame the officer was just a few inches too far to the left of the carpet. 

Somali police forces attend a parade during celebrations to mark Somali’s 58th Independence Day in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 1, 2018.    REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Beyond the immediate tragedy of Alaa Al-Faqir’s picture of a woman made homeless through conflict, I am struck that she is carrying a carpet that is almost twice as large as she is across a muddy field. Obviously, a prized possession to be carried to safety when she was forced to leave home, but strangely this image gives me a glimmer of hope. I sense that even though she was forced to flee she expects to build her home again with more than just essentials. But that said, it’s still a sad picture that raises many questions.      

A woman carries a carpet on her shoulders near the Israeli-occupied Golan heights in Quneitra, Syria July 2, 2018.  REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir

The small demonstration of displaced Syrians in Ammar Awad’s picture is dwarfed by the zig zagging fence, security lines and slight shimmer of heat haze that surround them. The scene is compressed as it has been shot on a very long lens, and your eye is drawn to the white placards held by the protesters. Once there, you are trapped with them, your eye held fast by posts of the barbed wire fencing pointing at them, making it hard to look away. Read on here

Internally displaced people in the Golan Heights protest near the border between Israel and Syria in an appeal to the UN and the international community to stop Russia from carrying out an offensive, as seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan heights, Israel July 4, 2018.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Mohamad Torokman produced a powerful set of pictures when police clashed with Palestinians, throwing up dust clouds around the struggling figures. This is a complex picture of twisting bodies and swirling limbs as people try to pull a woman away from the police. You have to fight equally hard visually to get to the focal point, through the almost monochromatic framing until you reach the centre of the picture. Hands and clothing stretched to tearing point, grimacing faces and the bright complimentary colour of green and reds. You can see more here

Israeli policemen try to detain Palestinians in the Bedouin village of Al-Khan al-Ahmar near Jericho in the occupied West Bank July 4, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture of demonstrators blocking roads with burning tyres is wonderful. You are immediately grabbed by the graphic shape of the circle of the black tyre surrounded by orange flames. What I like too is the position of the feet, the protester in full purposeful stride, and the picture brimming with energy.  

A man blocks a road with a burning tyre while protesting against electricity cuts in Klipspruit Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa July 4, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A simple and affectionate picture of dancing men by Zoubeir Souissi caught my eye this week. The mood of the picture created by the slight tilt to the framing and the regular shape of the arches in the background that seem to bounce from left to right over the heads of the swaying, barefoot men. A final nice touch is the ‘halo’ around the head of the man in black in the centre of the image.  

A Tunisian Sufi group perform in Tunis, Tunisia July 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi