Friday 26 June 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, June 26, 2020.

Eat your heart out Alfred Hitchcock fans, as Baz Ratner has produced a terrific picture with a crow backlit by a partial eclipse. Technically a nightmare to expose for; and to get the full curve of the sun just above the slope of the roof with the crow looking into the centre of the curve is just magical. More eclipse pictures here. 

A crow stands on a roof as a partial solar eclipse is observed in Nairobi, Kenya, June 21, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner 

 World Refugee Day brought out the numbers interest in photographer Khalil Ashawi. Nine years of conflict in Syria that has generated millions of refugees. Khalil set about finding nine children, from nine different cities impacted by the conflict, each aged 1 to 9. He then posed them for a picture in their temporary accommodation to produce a sad and haunting set of images, one of which I include. It seemed only natural to make a square combination picture from all nine portraits that not only hinted at the sense of scale of the problem but also provide the perfect shape for sharing on social media to draw attention to the plight of these youngsters. Read on here.

Rawan al-Aziz, a 6-year-old Syrian displaced child, from Southern Idlib countryside, poses for a picture in a tent at Atmeh camp, near the Turkish border, Syria June 19, 2020. Picture taken June 19, 2020. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi  

Combination picture shows (top row, L-R) Ranim Barakat, a 9-year-old displaced Syrian girl from Hama countryside; Jumana and Farhan al-Alyawi, a 8-year-old displaced Syrian twins from east Idlib; Maysaa Mahmoud, a 5-year-old Syrian displaced child from Homs countryside; (middle row, L-R) Walid al-Khaled, a 2-year-old displaced Syrian child from Aleppo city; Rawan al-Aziz, a 6-year-old displaced Syrian child, from Southern Idlib countryside; Mahmoud al-Basha, a 3-year-old displaced Syrian child; (bottom row, L-R) Mariam al-Mohamad, a 4-year-old displaced Syrian child from Homs city; Mohamed Abdallah, a 7-year-old displaced Syrian boy from Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib's southern countryside and Abdul Rahman al-Fares, a 4-month-old displaced Syrian baby from south Idlib countryside posing for pictures in a tent at Atmeh camp, near the Turkish border, Syria June 19, 2020.  REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi  

As heatwaves hit different parts of the globe Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s sunrise picture is a great illustration. The shimming orb dwarfs the buildings and trees in the foreground as it rises to clear the horizon. A picture that is easy enough to shoot in Egypt for sure but the added treat in this one is the kite dancing in the morning air on the right that you will miss if you dont look closely enough. 

The sun rises in Cairo, Egypt June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

 For me there is a very strong sense of sadness in Raneen Sawafta’s picture. Maybe it’s the ghost- like appearance of the figure in the cloth, maybe the fact the colours are drained from her face or could it be that her eyes are downcast and we cant see into them? Probably a combination of all those things. The strength of the image is in making me instantly feel that emotion. The caption explains the sadness -  it’s International Widows Day 

Manal Al-Essa, a Palestinian woman whose husband died of cancer, is seen through a dress she sewed for sale, on the International Widows Day, in Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta  

Zohra Bensemra’s picture of children at play is an instant antidote to the image above I am sure like me you can hear their open-mouthed laughter. The black circular shape of the tire dominates the image, but Zohra has given us just enough time and space to look around the front of it to see all the way up the narrow dirt street. Captured to perfection are the hands rolling the tire, the younger child, I presume sister, reaching out to catch her big brother, his hands positioned giving the tire motion. The tiny but important space between the boy’s flip-flop and his foot and the echoed line of the running children’s legs. Such an affectionate and warm daily life picture.       

Children play with a tire, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Yoff neighbourhood of Dakar, Senegal June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

 It’s that look over the white mask that instantly captures me in Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture, there is no getting away from those eyes. The man at first glance is appears as if he is elaborately dressed but on closer inspection we see that he has just loosened his jacket and unbuttoned and half taken off his checkered shirt to expose his yellow T shirt and more importantly his left arm. He is being injected with a vaccine trial for the coronavirus. The cleverly cropped text in the picture just above gloved hands, reading “‘Be wise”, seems to almost a question rather than a statement.   

A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa, June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  

 The lighting and feel in Siphiwe Sibeko’s image puts me in mind of an opening shot of a film set in the 1930s and exploring the Great Depression. Dozens and dozens of people just waiting in a scene sucked of any colour. A powerful compositional arc leads you from the back of the queuing figures at the bottom right, around past the post that cuts vertically across the picture and the red traffic lights out to the bus on the left and then onto the bus in the hazy blue light, top right. You come away with a feeling of a never-ending wait in line. 

Buses are seen as stranded commuters wait for transportation at a bus terminal during a protest by taxi operators over the government's financial relief for the taxi industry, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Soweto, South Africa, June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  

 There is no escaping the feeling of exhaustion and maybe even a slight sense of intrusion in Essam Al-Sudani’spicture, which has been shot quite wide so we get a real sense of the functional space. A stolen moment of peace and quiet, the head is tilted back even though the harsh room lights glare back – not very soft and relaxing lighting for sure and this is a utilitarian room that is not designed for comfort and relaxion. The flopped hand in the figure’s body language tells us he is doing his best to try to just a little rest before getting back to work.  

 An assistant of Dr. Hiba Jabbar Ashoor wears a protective face mask while taking a break at Basra Teaching Hospital, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Basra, Iraq June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani  

 At first glance Mohamed Torokman’s picture is more than a little messy. The highlights in the background draw the eye, the feet of the soldier are cropped off (Grrrr – very much a pet hate of mine), the face of the man in the white shirt is obscured by his hand, as well as the soldier on the left give us a sense of obscuring the action while the soldier on the right seems to add nothing. Now look at the next and the recrop. 

A Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Jordan Valley June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman 

Wham! No misunderstanding now what is going on. The soldier’s rifle is being prodded into the demonstrator’s lower chest and we now see the staring focus of the man’s eyes. We are also captivated by the masked child who looks directly into the camera, seemly oblivious of the potential danger. Equally important, what we can also now see is that the soldier’s finger is carefully away from the trigger. Would I have cropped this tighter to remove the running photographer in the background, coming down to lose a slice of the arm on the right and match that by taking a slither off the soldiers backpack on the left? Probably. But hey, I am nit-picking, which is a little unfair.   

A Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Jordan Valley June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman 









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