Friday 28 June 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, June 28, 2019

Anger flares in Mussa Qawasma’s picture that has a feeling of being bad tempered, hot and sweaty. A strong oval and diagonal composition created by the helmets and position of the arms draws us into the centre of the image. The strong sunlight catches the sweat on the face of the man who is held back by his friends as he confronts the Israeli forces. 

A Palestinian demonstrator scuffles with Israeli forces during a protest against Bahrain’s workshop for U.S peace plan, in Bethlehem, in the Israeli occupied West Bank June 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma 

I’ve selected Mohamed Abd Al-Ghany’s football celebration for no better reason that it’s just fun and a lovely shape. The players look like a well-rehearsed dance troupe coming on stage for the opening of a show. Do they practice these moves?  Who knows? But whatever they do it works, it’s fun and makes a great lighthearted picture. 

Madagascar’s Romain Metanire, Ima Andriatsima and team mates celebrate thei goal against Guinea during the Africa Cup of nations in Alexandria, Egypt June 22, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Deeper and deeper and deeper you are drawn into Umit Bektas’ picture of the boy posing for a picture, through the U-shaped curve of the camel’s neck, past the armed soldiers to the people on camels in the distance. The clean skyline ensures we are not distracted by any visual noise.   

A supporter of Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council and head of parliamentary rapid Support Forces (RSF), holds his portrait as he rides his camel before a meeting in Aprag village, near Khartoum, Sudan June 22, 2019.    REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Okay nit-pick time, how much on a scale of 1-10 do you think Baz Ratner would like the foot of the soldier in the centre of the picture not be to be covered by the soldier in the foreground? I am prepared to bet about 9. It’s almost as if the soldier is looking down at the offending appendage in this otherwise perfectly balanced image.     

Honour guards march after the memorial ceremony for the Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 25, 2019.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Often the most eye-catching subject is an object out of context, a boat on a roof or a car in a swimming pool. An upside-down tank in a stream also fits this category, especially when it is photographed with a slow exposure so the water blurs to give it a rather mystical and dreamlike feel.  Ronen Zvulun’s picture is part of a series of pictures titled “Land Scars”, that documents sites, buildings and objects that all form part of the long history of conflict and failed peace processes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The series has taken weeks to shoot and was published to mark the start of the Bahrain Workshop, the latest attempt to break the deadlock.You can read on here.  

A Syrian tank lies over turned in the Hermon steam in Banias Nature Reserve on the western edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan heights February 27, 2019.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

There is no escaping the strong symmetrical shape to Tiksa Negri’s funeral picture. The rope holding the coffin and the compositional lines created by the people lowering the coffin form almost perfect diagonals that lead your eye from the corners of the frame to the grave. It gives the image a strangely serene feeling, but take a moment to look at the struggle, pushing and shoving that is taking place on the outer reaches of the image, nothing serene there. Now consider the effort it must have taken Tiksa to get into the position to shoot this perfectly shaped image.  

Pallbearers bury the flag-draped coffin carrying the body of Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff, Seare Mekonnen during his funeral in Mekele, Ethiopia June 26, 2019.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

A cold, lonely and painful image by Ismail Zitouny from Libya created by the blues of the wall, the cold white light and a complex, busy composition. Your eye wanders around the messy image trying to make sense of the tubes, cables, a confusing vertical shape and a slight tilt to the horizontal lines all of which add to your sense of unease. It’s then that you spot the injured solder, laid out flat, alone and bloodied on what looks like a very uncomfortable bed. A second soldier, goes almost unnoticed on the bed on wheels but at least he has a slightly thicker mattress to lay on.   

Injured soldiers of the eastern forces led by Khalifa Haftar. Lay on beds at the Gharyan hospital, south of Tripoli, Libya June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Friday 14 June 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, June 14, 2019

Light streaming through holes into a smoke-filled workshop is going to work as a picture every time. What Mohammed Salem has done is to show a worker walking through the rays of light, the timing perfect so the beams of light don’t cut across his face. Enjoy this peaceful, calm image of daily toil.    

A Palestinian worker carries clay pots as sun rays penetrate through the ceiling of a pottery workshop in Gaza City June 11, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 

In complete contrast of mood, but taken on the same day as Mohamed’s picture above, the grief in Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture crashes into your consciousness and leaves you with a feeling of desperation and sadness. The boy’s hand tenderly touches his dead father’s face as he looks down weeping and distraught, his other hand gripped tight in tension as he is lifted above the chaos of the funeral. We can only guess at the feelings going through the boy’s mind, but this sad and powerful moment is captured forever.  

The son of Palestinian paramedic Mohamed Al-Judaily, who died of wounds he sustained during a protest at the Israeli-Gaza border fence, reacts as he looks at his father’s body during his funeral in the central Gaza strip, June 11, 2019.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

I won’t attempt to lift the spirits after Ibraheem’s picture but will bombard you with more distressing news and raise an ethical issue with an image from the same day as those above. A village in Mali was attacked, with the death toll ranging from 35 to nearly 100 depending on who was citing the numbers. What was agreed is that more than 20 children were killed. We have images of the dismembered and charred bodies but they are considered too distressing to publish. To give a sense of the death and destruction we published this poignant image below, the dead body of a thin farm animal, ashes all that is left of building. You get a sense of what happened without being exposed to the grisly images of dead people. It’s always hard to decide what should be seen in such instances – after all, who wants to see dead children? Or is this a case that calls for “seeing is believing” and for the publication of the images? I think not. Read on here 

A dead animal is seen amidst the damage at the site of an attack on the Dogon village of Sobane Da, Mali June 11, 2019.    REUTERS/Malick Konate

A very nicely seen image by Baz Ratner at a mock funeral by environmental activists. You eye is drawn quickly to the clever black and white logo pasted on a fake black coffin. The only real colour of the image, the red of the protester’s nail varnish, holds g our attention. Your eye then moves right in the frame to see her masked face, her eyes serious as she carries her message.  

Greenpeace environmental activist carries a fake coffin during a protest against the construction of a coal fired electricity plant in Lamu on Kenya’s coast, during a protest in Nairobi, June 12, 2019.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner  

I am a big fan of simple shapes and strong lines in composition. Add a strong red colour with a hint of complementary green and the sound of a military band, as Afolabi Sotunde has done, and he hits all the right buttons. If I was after perfection I would have liked a little more space on the top right, so the arm of the leading soldier pointed into the corner of the frame and we would not crop off the small figure, also in green on the right.

Police officers are seen on parade during the new Democracy Day, a national holiday in honour of late M.K.O Abiola, in Abuja, Nigeria, June 12, 2019.  REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Samuel Mambo’s picture structure is all about sharp edges and it has an eerie feel to it. The clean corner of the wall, the strong wide V-shape line of the path, the white highlights of the workers’ clothing against the background shadows and, if you look carefully, the fold lines in the newly opened aprons of the medical staff. Staff are getting ready to fight Ebola. The uneasy feeling is created by compositionally awkward position of the figures in the chopped-up space and the man’s gloved hands that are clasped together, giving the image a pensive feel. Read on here 

Ugandan medical staff are seen as they inspect the Ebola preparedness facilities at the Bwera General Hospital near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bwera, Uganda, June 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Samuel Mambo 

Friday 7 June 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa, June 7, 2019

The devastation of a mud slide is graphically illustrated in Newton Nambwaya’s striking picture. As far as the eye can see a brown gash of mud cuts down from the horizon, through the green trees, destroying and smothering all in its path. The woman in the foreground struggles through the mud, seemingly with little or no hope of achieving anything. This all seems slightly unreal. It was torrential rains that caused this mud slide, but the scene is now bathed in warm sunshine. 

A resident struggles through the destruction caused after a landslide rolled down the slopes of Mt Elgon through the Shisakali village in Bududa district, Uganda June 6, 2019.    REUTERS/Newton Nambwaya

Strong warm highlights and dark cold shadows in Khalil Ashawi’s bomb aftermath picture give us a real feel of the chaos of what is going on. It’s hard to work it out. Your eye is drawn immediately to the bright yellow and you spot the spray of water, or is it smoke? It’s then that you see the man with the jeans and white t-shirt, behind him another with the fire hose dousing the damaged vehicle. The ground, wet with water, reflects the light and the action. Slowly, the bystanders can be seen in the shadows on the right. They seem calm and used to all this. 

People try to extinguish a fire at the site of a car blast in Azaz, Syria, June 2, 2019.   REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

The overall shape of the police arriving at the scene is like a wave crashing on the beach, with a strong right-to-left diagonal formed by the line of their helmets. Then you get a sense of a strong undercurrent pulling back. I think it’s the position of their arms that give us this sense of back and forth motion. Take special notice of the man’s hand in the centre of the picture. He looks like a surfer in a powerful current trying to control the flow of the wave.

Israeli policemen gather as they aim their weapons during clashes with Palestinians on ‘Jerusalem Day’ on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City June 2, 2019.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

A cacophony of colour and line makes your eyes swirl around Afolabi Sotunde’s picture from Eid prayers. Finally, you are allowed to rest on the brand name Hello Kitty, to make this a terrific business news picture. Then, and only then, you see the fingers reaching to the edge of the frame. Imagine just how disappointing it would be if these were cropped off! To see more picture from Eid click here

Muslim sisters pray next to a Hello Kitty hand bag during the Eid al-fitr celebration in Abuja, Nigeria June 4, 2019.    REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

An affectionate and simple set of pictures by Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen looks at the tradition of buying new clothes to celebrate Eid. The black background and the relaxed poses draw attention to the varieties of clothing purchased. Abdullah is taking a break from news photography to bring us a visual surprise to enjoy. I have pulled them together as a combination so you can see a small selection.  

Ghufran Ali Kazim, 21, Zuhair Ramzy Khalil, 23 and Mariam Farouq Naji, 23, pose for pictures wearing clothes brought for the celebration of Eid al-Fitr in Kerbala, Iraq June 5, 2019.    REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen 

All colour has been choked out of Thaier Al-Sudani’s cityscape by the smoke from the chimneys. The image looks like it’s from a bygone era. A tiny figure is dwarfed by the chimney stacks and the extent of the pollution. It’s the vehicle on the right that snaps us out of this illusion that this is from the past. It’s happening right now. Read on here 

A general view of brick factories as smoke rises from the chimney stacks in Nahrawan in Baghdad, Iraq, June 3, 2019.    REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

All compositional lines in Azad Lashari’s picture lead to the fiery open mouth, from the torch itself, the line of the eyebrow, to the clothing of those watching. The yellow glow of the flame will be snuffed out in an instant as the worshipper closes his mouth, shutting off the oxygen to the flame. But the moment before that happens has been captured forever.  

A member of the Iraqi Muslims dervishes of Sufis, puts a torch of fire into his mouth as he takes part in a ritual during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Erbil, Iraq May 19, 2019.    REUTERS/Azad Lashari 

Like a Mondrian painting, this picture is made up of rectangular blocks, with the strong vertical lines of the telegraph poles intersecting the horizonal lines of the cables and breaking the image up into sections. A slab of solid back-lit black is counterweighted by the bright colours of the translucent flag held aloft. The picture structure feels like a loud drum beat. 

A Sudanese protester holds a national flag as he stands on a road barricade demanding that the country’s Transitional Military Council hand over power to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan June 5, 2019.    REUTERS