Friday 6 November 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, November 6, 2020

The momentary flash of a sound grenade exploding is captured by Mohamed Torokman and amazing to see are the reactions or lack of them from the people near the blast. First, we have Torokman himself, he is photographing the blast, so take a minute to think what is required to actually do that. Then look around, the man nearest the blast, like Torokman, is taking pictures, either side of him. Others have turned away to protect their eyes and eyes as too have the people deeper in the frame. Closer to the edges of the frame, standing with the man holding the flag, they are all oblivious of the blast, which tells us that this is the moment of the blast as they have not yet reacted to it.    

Palestinian demonstrators react to a sound grenade fired by Israeli forces during a protest against Jewish settlements and U.S. President Donald Trump, in Beit Dajan in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Careful and thoughtful framing through an entrance with clean foreground and background builds the compositional structure in Ronen Zvulun’s picture. What I like is that it’s not quite symmetrical even though at first glance it looks as if it is. The colours of the wall are slightly different and the queue extends out of shot from right to left.  

Pupils, wearing protective face masks, stand together upon arrival at their school as Israel reopens first to fourth grades, continuing to ease a second nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, at a school in Rehovot, Israel November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Mike Hutchings striking picture of fires on Table Mountain puts me in mind of director Peter Jackson’s rendition of Mount Doom from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The long exposure blurs the moving smoke so it appears like a beam emanating from the ‘mouth’ of the fires. 

Flames illuminate smoke over the city as strong winds fan a fire that broke out on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, October 31, 2020. Picture taken with long time exposure. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

A brutally effective crop divides Luc Gnago’s picture in half.  In addition to the harsh line down the centre of the frame, this ‘left and right, us and them’ feeling is created by the cold colours of the grey/brown and blue uniform against the bright warm colours on the left and accentuated by the soldier looking out of the frame seemingly oblivious of the crowd waiting to cast their votes.   

People wait to cast their votes during the presidential election in Abidjan, Ivory Coast October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Such a fun and joy filled picture from Amr Abdallah Dalshyou just have to take the time to look around taking it all in. The bride is having such a great time, she is very happy, and you almost feel and hear the rhythm of the music they are dancing to, their hands moving to the beat. And then you see the faces of her fiends forming a circle around them, every one of them enjoying the moment.    

Bride Hager Yasser dances with guests during her traditional wedding celebration at the outdoor Grand Palace villa in Queisna, as Egyptian government only allows outdoor events amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Egypt's northern Nile Delta province of Menoufia, Egypt November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

I cant get the notion of the Penrose stairs out of my mind when looking at Abdullah Rashid’s wonderfully complex image. Your eye bounces left to right, up and down and in and out of doorways. The figures, all in matching blue clothing and white helmets, add to the hall of mirrors and Penrose effect. 

A group of young volunteers works to clean the Church of Saint Thomas, as they help Iraqi Christians in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq October 28, 2020.  REUTERS/Abdullah Rashid 

The feeling of loss and emptiness is quite overwhelming in Raneen Sawafta’s picture. As far as the eye can see the only signs of life are the birds that seem to be fleeing a desolate landscape. This emptiness I think is created by the vast open space of the horizon that appears like the soft washes of a water colour painting over which sit the solid black tones of the birds in flight.  

Birds fly over the site of destroyed Palestinian tented homes and animal shelters in Khirbet Humsah in Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta 

Monicah Mwangi provides an interesting dilemma. Which picture better tells the story of friendship and support at a time of COVID-19 social distancing for the visually impaired? For sure the first image below is a beautiful ‘Bert Hardy(esque)’ image of friendship and support but does it give you any sense of the boys being visually impaired? 

Visually impaired pupils hold on to each other for confidence as they walk after attending a lesson, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Thika school for the blind in Thika town of Kiambu county, Kenya October 29, 2020. Picture taken October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi 

In this second choice the image is not as immediate in visual terms of the bond of friendship between the boys, but you do get a greater sense of their visual impairment. One boy is reaching out to touch the pillars to guide him and his friend, and this is an indicator of how important touch is for the visually impaired. But it’s this touch that is being restricted by policies of social distancing to try to control the coronavirus, the point of the story. I like them both. Read on here.

Visually impaired pupils hold on to each other for confidence as they walk after attending a lesson, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Thika school for the blind in Thika town of Kiambu county in Kenya October 29, 2020. Picture taken October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi