Friday 25 January 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa January 25, 2019

As a late inclusion for pictures of the week I could not ignore Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture from the Gaza-Israeli border, it’s like two images in one. In the bottom left third of the picture is a group of young men, hugging, smiling and taking a selfie. In the rest of the image are scenes of people running during clashes, shrouded in tear gas. The power of this image is that could be used to open so many debates that would polarise opinion.   

Palestinian demonstrators pose for a selfie during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the ventral Gaza strip January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

There’s no escaping the intrigue in Thaier al-Sudani’s picture of the Bikers of Baghdad. We are squeezed into the image through the backward glance by the black clad rider and the bright Iraqi flag to the bike weaving through the traffic. It’s a feel-good story about  an attempt at unity, so have a look at the rest of the pictures here

A member of Iraq Bikers, first Iraqi biker group, drives with an Iraqi flag on his motorbike in Baghdad, Iraq December 28, 2018.   REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani 

Strange shapes and colours in Olivia Acland’s picture combine to intrigue and delight the viewer. The shadow of the young man’s hand doesn’t quite cover his eyes so his face jumps out at you even though it’s quite small in the frame. The catchlight in the out of focus figure in the foreground brings him sharply into focus, if only for a second, but it is time enough for us to notice the loud hailer he’s carrying. Only then are we allowed to drift into the background to notice the other figures milling about expectantly in the heat and dark and then finally to the hand and arm creeping into the frame.  

Supports of Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social progress celebrate along the streets after the judges of the Constitutional Court confirmed Tshisekedi’s victory in the presidential election in Kinshasa, DRC, January 20, 2019.   REUTERS/Olivia Ackland 

At first glance Amir Cohen’s picture looks like a simple graphic weather picture from the Golan heights, a tree set again a blue sky after a fresh snow shower. But it’s not, it’s a clever image of an Iron Dome anti-missile system being installed after another round of attacks. Once the caption is read the tree fades away and the details of the crated weapons system come to the fore of the image.   

A crane lowers Iron Dome anti-missile system’s launch tubes at Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan heights near the Israeli-Syria border January 21, 2019.    REUTERS/Amir Cohen

You need to look and look again at Eissa Alragehi picture to make sense of it. It’s like blacksmith Yaarub is part of a machine in a Mad Max type world, stylish in his appearance with his eye wear, strong arms, calm and in control in the chaos of the workshop. There is no mention of his disability in the caption so no clues there. You need to notice the wheels of his wheelchair to begin to understand. It’s a perfect picture to draw you into a story so you can discover more, so click here  

Yaarub Eissa works at a blacksmith workshop in Abs in the northern province of Hajiah, Yemen January 19, 2019.   REUTERS/Eissa Alragehi

Siphiwe Sibeko’s image is one of those pictures that works as it draws you in to awkward space. It shouldn’t really work but it does and you’re not quite sure why. The basic visual story is a man appearing in court who has a famous father. The temptation would be to just show the two of them interacting, as Siphiwe has done. I include that image to demonstrate this. What I enjoy most about Siphiwe’s picture is the space between the figures and how the body language bounces us around. Your eye is drawn straight to the central figure. He’s laughing, relaxed and his eye line draws you to the person on the right, who’s cropped half out of the frame but looking back in, sending your eye off to the third figure on the left. He in turn is looking left to right, sending you back to the central figure. The circle is complete.

 Duduzane Zuma, stands next to his father, former South African President Jacob Zuma, as he waits for the start of his appearance at the Specialist Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg, South Africa, January 24, 2019.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Duduzane Zuma, laughs with his father, former South African President Jacob Zuma, as he waits for the start of his appearance at the Specialist Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg, South Africa, January 24, 2109.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

As an exercise in demonstrating just how a small crop by an editor can make a lot of difference, I want to share an image shot by Philimon Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. The first has  no crop and the second with a slight crop. I don’t want to take away from the difficulty that Philimon is working under as a photographer so this is to highlight just how important these small changes can be in the editing process.

Motorists queue for petrol in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Motorists queue for petrol in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Monday 21 January 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa January 18, 2019

We responded quickly to the attack in Nairobi and the team had pictures on the wire within minutes, filling the international news websites with powerful images. I have selected two images from the story. The first by Thomas Mukoya, perfect in its composition, creates an atmosphere of extreme but silent tension. This tension derives from the visual flow of the movement from left to right, the position of arms, feet, hands and eyes as the soldier carefully checks that it’s safe to move. The whole scene unfolds against a backdrop of alternate light and dark tones. More on the story here

A member of the security forces keeps guard as people are evacuated at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the DusitD2 hotel compound in Nairobi, Kenya, January 15, 2019.   REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Baz Ratner’s picture is basically a similar moment, a soldier leading people to safety, but has such a different feel. Unlike Thomas’s picture, where you see people led to safety in fearful silence, in Baz’s picture they are crushed into a small space, all lines leading to the woman grimacing in fear. It feels noisy to me as the soldier looks up out of the frame. I like it that you only get the smallest glimpse of his eye. Any more of his face and the image would have a different focal point: the soldier. Any less and he would appear as a green shape obstructing the visual action in the rear.   

People are evacuated by member of the security forces at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the DusitD2 hotel compound in Nairobi, Kenya, January 15, 2019.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner 

What is most striking in Philimon Bulawayo’s second pick this week is that it’s very rare to see such striking flames and running demonstrators in the driving rain. Heavy rainfall often dampens both, so what we are seeing may be a good indicator of the anger felt by those protesting in this compelling picture. More on the Zimbabwe story here

People run at a protest as barricades burn during rainfall in Harare, Zimbabwe January 14, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Even though the prisoner in Philimon Bulawayo’s picture is surrounded by police he looks lonely and defenceless. The position of the police, helmets on, face shields down, batons ready, keeps your eye focused on the prisoner as he occupies the central empty space. You then see the hand that also directs you to the central figure. Another prisoner is being directed to this open space. Some company for our lonely prisoner. No doubt there will be many more.

People arrested during protests wait to appear in the Magistrates court in Harare, Zimbabwe January 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

A simple but eye-catching picture from Mohamed Abd El Ghany is an easy pick this week. A sandstorm sweeps into Cairo, obliterating the skyline to create this eerie, sepia-toned image. What makes this picture work well is the wrapped-up figure, bold in shape, with the palm trees in the background bowing against the wind.   

A man covers his face during a sandstorm near the River Nile in Cairo, Egypt January 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

A lucky accident of timing, a well-handled crop and a bit of fun from Suhaib Salem as the ball bounces to create the illusion that Muhsen al-Ghassani’s head is actually a football. The reason this works so well is that the background is clean, the ball’s position is perfect and the colour is nice, allowing us a gentle smile.  

Ela Oman’s Muhsen al-Ghassani jumps for the ball against Japan’s Yuto Nagatomo during their AFC Asian Cup Group F match in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 13, 2019.   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Zohra Bensemra’s picture is a gentle look at football spectators in Senegal. You can almost feel the warmth of the sunshine off the wall and the gentle breeze blowing through the gaps as two relaxed figures enjoy the peace of the moment. I’m not sure if the wall is being constructed or in a state of disrepair, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the clever use of shape and line.      

Supporters watch a training session of their football team in Medina neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal, January 14, 2019.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

Francis Kokoroko’s picture reminded me of a series of landscapes titled ‘Shot at Dawn’ by Chloe Dewe Mathews. The main difference is that the echo of silence felt in Chloe’s pictures, which have no people in them, is broken in Francis’ image by the quiet phone conversation being held by a man standing alone in a wide nondescript setting. We are not sure the killing actually took place in this spot, but the mood, like the cool tones of the blue wall, is very sombre. 

A man talks on the phone in a street believed to be where Ahmed Hussein-Suale, an investigative journalist, was shot dead in Madina, Accra, Ghana January 17, 2019.   REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

I love the fan-like rhythm in Maheder Haileselaisse’s picture, with perspective lines that would have made medieval painter Paolo Uccello sing with joy. I love, too, the equally spaced dots of colour and highlights in the scarves of the women that break up the lines of the production tables. It also makes me reflect on the effort involved in producing coffee in some parts of the world. Even though it was shot in November, the full story was only published this week. That gives you an indication of how long some stories take to produce.  See the story here

Workers dry washed coffee beans at the Holiso cooperative of Shebedino district in Sidama, Ethiopia November 30, 2018.   REUTERS/ Maheder Haileselaisse 

There is no mistaking the power and energy in Thierry Gouegnon’s picture. What I like too about this, again using a painting theme, is the sense of cubism in the design. Hands, arms, elbows and faces all come in from different directions, some elements visible to make sense, other elements obscured and truncated only to be completed visually in a different part of the picture.   

Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo celebrate along a street in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, January 15, 2019.   REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Monday 14 January 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa January 11, 2019

A belated happy New Year to all. It might have gone unnoticed that in UAE Hamad I Mohammed photographed what appears to be an alien landing. Well, that is what it looks like to me or maybe it’s a sneak preview of Blade Runner 3. A beam of light shimmers from the Burj Khalifa as if the occupants of an alien craft are searching for something or someone in the grey-brown tower blocks. You can see the best of Reuters 2018 here 

The Buri Khalifa us lit up during new Year celebrations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 1, 2019.   REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

The composition of Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah’s picture is ‘in your face’ very much as his lens was in the face of the security guard to produce this striking picture. The blue of the sky creates a clean backdrop for the strong shapes and lines to cut across. Am I worried the face is not perfectly cut in half or that the cane extends beyond the edge of the frame? Not at all, as this makes the image bleed wider than its borders, giving it a ‘big screen’ feel.   

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir waves to his supporters during a rally at the Green Square in Khartoum, Sudan January 9, 2019.    REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdullah

Perfect timing as the ashes leave the shovel in front of the rising sun gives a powerful left-to-right compositional flow to Feisal Omars’s picture. The figures on the left in the background help to echo the wider V shape that makes up the dark foreground. The bare branches of the tree cut through the haze of rising smoke and the handle of the shovel adds to this compositional echo.     

A trader uses a shovel as he attempts to recover his merchandise within the smoldering remains of clothing stalls after an overnight fire at the Bakara market in Mogadishu, Somalia January 11, 2019.    REUTERS/Fesial Omar

A strange moment captured by Olivia Acland as people react to election news in DRC. Your eye goes immediately to the blue cross and then quickly to the figure on the right, hand on head, mouth open and eyes closed with tears, his colleagues closing in to console him as they look at a picture of their leader. But look deeper into the picture. A woman is smiling and posing as she seems to be shooting a selfie of herself in front of election banners.  

Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) react at the party HQ in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Olivia Acland

I’ve broken my own rule and added a picture with no watermark (so no stealing please), the reason being that it completely destroys the key focal point of Philimon Bulawayo’s picture - the upward look of the man. Confusing action of what appears to be people jumping up and down is exaggerated by the left-hand-down tilt of the picture and countered by the upwards look of the salesman.   

A man looks up at old Zimbabwean currency notes for sale in Harare, Zimbabwe January 10, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

A giant wave of people swirls around Fayulu in Baz Ratner’s picture. It’s as if the arms of his supporters are spinning the shape and flow of the image around and around so you are drawn into the picture like a whirlpool. What I admire too is that I know exactly how much energy and hard work it would have taken for Baz to get into this position through the crowds of supporters. More on the election here 

Martin Fayulu, runner up in Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election waves to his supporters as he arrives to a political rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 11, 2019.   REUTERS/.Baz Ratner

‘Shit Happens’ it most certainly does and I am drawn uncomfortably to Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s powerful picture. On one hand I cannot help but admire the perfect visual combination of the wording on the man’s shirt and the injured boy. But I am also aware that the boy is suffering greatly and his injury will probably blind him in one eye. I would much rather that this image did not exist and the boy had his sight. But he was injured, we report the news as it happens, and ‘shit happens’. we are following up to see what has happened to this boy.

A wounded Palestinian boy is evacuated during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza strip January 11, 2019.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa