Friday 31 August 2018

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, August 31, 2018

It’s not often a government leader turns up in a country and disembarks from the aircraft
alone, but Afolabi Sotunde took full advantage of Theresa May’s arrival to Nigeria to
make this wonderfully graphic picture. The horizontal and diagonal lines, triangles and
curves lead us all over this picture until we settle on the warm tones of May’s mustard-
coloured jacket among the cool and calm of the greys and blues. Really quite wonderful.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Abuja, Nigeria August 29, 2018.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

I am drawn to Mohamad Torokman’s picture because it makes me want to know exactly what happens next. The sound grenade is just far enough in the air so that it’s clearly visible yet close enough to the policeman that it’s obvious it’s being thrown. The man in white has raised his stick, but we are not sure if it will be brought down on the policeman or, as we are told in the caption, used to gesticulate towards him. What is also very striking is that both protagonists in the image are dressed in complete tonal opposites, one all dark, one all light. 

A Palestinian demonstrator gestures as an Israeli border police officer throws a sound grenade during a protest against Israeli settlement, in the village of Ras Karker, near Ramallah in the occupied West bank August 31, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A simple detail picture from Ronen Zvulun of people’s notes and prayers that have been cleared from the Western Wall somewhat saddens me and puts me in mind of the W.B Yeats poem ‘The Cloths of Heaven' . Notes of hope and prayers that would have been written and tucked so carefully by the authors are now scattered under the feet of man cleaning them out.

A worker removes notes from cracks at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, as customary ahead of the Jewish New Year, August 28, 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

As confusing in terms of focal point as any image can be, Naif Rahma’s picture works and I am not sure why because it should not. The first half of the image is empty dusty space of nondescript colour, and the slope of the hills gives an uneasy tilt to the image. Your eye wants to settle on the face of the man with the dark blue headdress, but the bright turquoise headdress in the foreground gets in the way as you try to study his features. Your eye then wanders off into the distance, looking for a focal point; unrewarded it returns to the foreground, and there it is, the focal sense of the picture, a battered black rifle being held aloft that serves to unsettle the viewer more. 

Followers of the Shi’ite Houthi movement take part in a ceremony marking the al-Ghadeer day in Sanaa, Yemen August 29, 2018.   REUTERS/Naif Rahma

On seeing this picture by James Oatway you just have to find out what is happening. That to me is a key element of a great news picture – you need to know more and by looking at it longer, often with text, you find out. The action is set against the clean steel background and slowly the pale blue word ELECTRICAL comes into sight. But you have to work hard against the visual pull of the red and yellow cap. Is it an accident? Is someone trapped? Read the caption.  

Police detain a school pupil for looting, where foreign shop owners were attacked and at least two killed, in the South Africa township of Soweto, South Africa August 29, 2018.   REUTERS/James Oatway 

Against a backdrop of bright cartoon pictures, children line up on the first day of term at a school in Gaza. The graduation from light tones to dark, from top to bottom, past the nervous faces of the schoolgirls, gives this picture strength and a feeling of trepidation. Their solemn faces invite the question: what does the future hold for these children? 

Palestinian schoolgirls queue at an UNRWA-run school on the first day of a new school year in Gaza City, August 29, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Friday 24 August 2018

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, August 24, 2018

A last minute update for my weekly round up to include Zohra Bensemra's details picture from the haj. The hands reaching across the crowds to touch against the black Kaaba that glints in the light tell the story of adoration and prayer. You can see more of Zohra's pictures here and read her account of the haj.

Muslim pilgrims kiss and touch the wall of the Kaaba as they perform Tawaf al- Ifada during the annual haj pilgrimage at the grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Andreea Campeanu’s picture of a girl in profile standing shoulder deep in swamp waters has such a dreamlike feeling it’s hard to not make up stories as to what she is thinking about as you look at her. Her head is in perfect profile as she watches the ripples in the still water that break up the reflection of the plants in the background and her head as she moves her arm gently back and forth. The ripples serve to break up the dream as we learn from the story that she is waiting for a food drop from an NGO. 

An internally displaced girl plays in the Sudd Swamp near the town of Nyal, in South Sudan august 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 

Standing under black and red drapes, beautifully robed mourners seem to whisper in the cool of the courtyard in Francis Kokoroko’s picture. Even though there is a small triangle of bright light and heat creeping through the drapes, the picture has an overall sense of cool. It takes a while to spot the figure on the right through the complex compositional web of crosses and diagonals but when you do see him he brings an even greater sense of calm and respect to the image as a whole.

Mourners gather at the family home of the late Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, in Bompata town in Kumasi, Ghana, August 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

There is no escaping the sheer glee in Khaled Abdulla’s picture on the faces of the boys as they carry their goats away from market prior to the Eid celebration and feasting. The action bursts out of the frame as the boy on the right is only just contained in the image. The composition spreads out in a scalene triangular shape, its peak being the red tent in the rear of the picture. Take even more time to study the faces and small details and you will eventually notice the boys’ feet, some bare, some with sandals and some with Wellington boots. But the boys all have hopeful smiles, a rare treat in Yemen.  

Boys carry goats at a livestock market where people buy sacrificial animals ahead of the Eid al-Adha celebrations in Sanaa, Yemen August 18, 2018.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

We are often faced with tough decisions of using images of children in areas of conflict who are suffering, wounded or even dead. Equally challenging is the edit when we cover stories about children who are sick. We are challenged with showing what is really happening while being respectful and preserving the dignity of those involved. Khaled Abdullah gained access to a cancer hospital in Yemen that is struggling to maintain care as the ongoing war drains access to resources and medicines. Khaled’s picture of a child who is sick with cancer is both powerful and empathetic. You can see the full story here

A girl with cancer lies on the lap of her mother at the national Oncology Centre in Sanaa Yemen, August 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

 I am very drawn to Amir Cohen’s picture of the couple posing for a picture for many reasons. First, I love the shape created by the women taking pictures as they lead you into the centre of the picture. Secondly, the almost classical pose the couple are assuming to have their image recorded and the way the side light falls gently on their faces, lifting the tones and drawing you to the calm and natural expression on faces. And lastly, a sense of timelessness as much of the colour is drained from the image by the evening light, leaving the picture with an almost monochromatic feel.    

People enjoy themselves along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha at a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel August 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Maybe you agree, maybe not, but Tiksa Negeri’s picture of husband of wife at the IPD camp in Ethiopia put me immediately in mind of the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood, which you can see here. Maybe it’s the gaunt lines in Biratu’s face, or the slight tilt to the head of his wife or maybe it’s just the sense I get of pride and dignity in the face of hardship. An extra bonus to me is that Tiksa has kept the feet well in the frame too – pictures that cut the feet off are a pet hate of mine. You can see the story here.

Biratu Ejersa, 73, stands in front of his shelter with his wife, Adanech Biftu, 35, and their daughter, Mazaynesh 7, in a camp for the internally displaced people in Chelelektu, town of Southern Nations, Nationalities and peoples’ region in Ethiopia August 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

It’s the eyes of the boy in the centre of this chaotic picture by Baz Ratner that seem to look to distant horizons, or in a flight of fancy, to the future, that really make this picture stand out. Even though the pounding feet of thousands has drummed up quite a dust cloud, their vibrant coloured robes of reds, yellows, blues, greens and orange and the bright white arcs of face paint dance and cut through the murky and excited atmosphere. You can see the full story here

Maasai children hold sticks as they gather for an initiation into an age group ceremony near the town of Bisil, Kajiado county, Kenya, August 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Friday 17 August 2018

Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, August 17, 2018

Strong compositional lines cut across Azad Lashkari’s picture like a frenzied attack on the visual senses. The horizon line slightly lower than the centre of the picture cuts through the heads of those holding the poles, forcing you to look up at the soldiers precariously balanced, before your eye speeds back to the flag in the distance. The diagonal lines of the safety mats bring your eye back around to the foreground of the image. A wonderful feat of balance and composition.     

Members of the Peshmerga Zirvani commandos demonstrate their skills during their graduation ceremony at the Tiger training camp in Erbil, Iraq August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Luc Gnago’s picture is a wonderful example of what I call a picture that ‘does what it says on the tin’. It’s the vote count of the presidential run-off, we see the candidates’ names on the blackboard, the number of votes marked in white chalk marks and an official holding up a voting form with the candidates’ pictures on them. If I were to nit-pick I would like the man in the background to not be there but I have learned we don’t live in a perfect world so I go away very happy with this picture.   

Election workers start the counting of the ballots during a run-off presidential election in Bamako, Mali August 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

I just had to include a second picture from Luc Gnago as it’s just brimming with life, colour and energy.  “Don’t touch my vote,” the black on red placard screams, amid a noisy scene of the bus loaded with people and speakers thundering support, and motor cyclists weaving about the road. You can almost taste the heady atmosphere, as the woman with her tongue out seems to suggest.  

Supporters of Soumaila Cisse, leader of the opposition party Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), carry banners as they protest along a street in Bamako, Mali, August 16, 2018. The banner reads ‘Don’t touch my vote’.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago 

This picture just makes me feel good and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s something one would not expect from Rwanda, a cycling race? Maybe it’s a sense I get, that while it may be plagued with doping scandals cycling might have an opportunity for a new start on a new continent. Or maybe it’s the sense of effort, the straining sinews of the cyclist’s leg caught in the sunlight and out of focus hands clapping encouragement that draws me to this image.

Samuel Mugisha of Team Rwanda competes during the Tour de Rwanda 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda August 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Jean Bizimana

Sometimes happy accidents occur when you set out to achieve one thing and your idea changes to another. Amir Cohen set out to cover the meteor shower but the noticed in his time exposures how vehicles illuminated the road like a magical path. Working on longer exposures and hoping for a greater volume of traffic he got lucky and succeeded in shooting this wonderful atmospheric image. Incidentally, he also managed some terrific pictures of meteors streaking across the skies.

The road is illuminated by the headlights of cars being driven through the Ramon Crater near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, August 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen  

Although you can see only dozens of people in Muhammad Hamed's picture, the visual echo of people's heads, getting smaller as you look to the background, in the shapes of vegetation behind makes us feel as though thousands are attending, as far as the eye can see. Maybe it's just my imagination, but it looks to me that dust thrown up by the mourners seems ghost-like as it hovers over the flag-draped body.

Guard of Honour and relatives of sergeant Hisham Agarbeh, of the anti-terrorist unit, who was killed in an attack, carry his body during his funeral in Birayn in the city of Zarqa, Jordan, august 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Zohra Bensemra’s picture looks like a combination of a Bridget Riley painting, a Matisse cut out and a cityscape still from the 1927 classic film Metropolis. The harsh light has drained all colour, reducing it almost to blacks and white. The flat black shapes of the foreground look like a cut out that has been laid on the image and once we force our way past this heavy blackness we finally get to see hundreds of people making their way from prayer. What a visual and cultural feast.  Read more from the Haj here

Muslim pilgrims walk out after the Friday prayer at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage in the Holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

Saturday 11 August 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa August 10, 2018

Some time on vacation but I am drawn as ever to look at the pictures. Here are the images that struck me most during this week from the region.

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel near the southern city of Sderot, Israel August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen 

A missile lands as an Israeli aircraft bombs a building in Gaza City August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

More picture from the Israeli-Palestinian clashes here.

A vendor carries a sold sheep to the customer's car, ahead of the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo smiles as she is welcomed by supporters after being released from detention in Abidjan, Ivory Coast August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Ruqqayah Abubakar lies on a bed after being treated at an obstetric fistula repair centre in Maiduguri, Nigeria August 1, 2018. Picture taken August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

A Palestinian boy looks out of his family's house that was damaged in an Israeli air strike, in Al-Mughraqa on the outskirts of Gaza City August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

A boy stands on woven mats in Idlib province, Syria July 29, 2018. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi

Women from Berber Kabylie region walk up to visit the Azrou N'Thor (Zenith Rock) mausoleum on the top of the Djurdjura Mountain in Tizi Ouzou province, Algeria August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Boys inspect graves prepared for victims of Thursday's air strike in Saada province, Yemen August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Naif Rahma

A former child soldier holds a gun as they participate in a child soldiers' release ceremony, outside Yambio, South Sudan, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu. More picture here

Flowers are laid under a wall displaying the names of people killed in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing at the August 7th memorial park in Nairobi, Kenya, August 5, 2018. Picture taken August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, U.S.-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

South Sudanese civilians celebrate the signing of a cease fire and power sharing agreement between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, in Khartoum; along the streets of Juba, South Sudan August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Samir Bol

Although it's from the week when i was travelling before I just had to include this from Siphiwe Sibeko. You can see images from Zimbabwe here.

A supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC) of Nelson Chamisa wears a cone as they block a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko