Asia – A Week in Pictures 5 December 2010

December 6, 2010

Unlike fondue parties, burgundy flares, home knitted tank tops, sideburns and keeping secrets secret all of which have fallen out of favour forever, eye contact in news pictures swings in and out of fashion. What is a permanent truth is that it can make or break an image :  direct eye contact with a good portrait picture can tell a whole story or enable the subject to make their feelings felt in the frozen moment of time – or maybe even provide the viewer a glimpse into the soul of the subject. When it doesn’t work the presence of the photographer destroys the intimacy of the moment. Can we tell what that person is like from a picture?  I think we can. What is also interesting to think about is that when a fleeting moment of eye contact is captured the photographer is blinded at the exact same moment of by the mechanism of the camera (yeah yeah rangefinder) so they have to be able to indentify the importance of the image when editing. How do you illustrate a story of people who have few rights and poor education?  Make them faceless but empower them with eye contact in the background that demands attention.


Children wait for their parents after school ended in Tenglong kindergarten, a school for children of migrant workers, in Beijing December 2, 2010. Preschools are the “weakest” part of China’s education system, according to the Chinese government which says it will generally improve the country’s kindergartens to ensure a quality start for children, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/Jason Lee

From the file this week I have pulled together a collection of pictures where there is direct eye contact. Look at the pictures and guess what the subject is thinking or have a stab at trying to understand what these people are like or what they are doing before reading the caption. I am sure that you will be right most of the time. From the glare of security, the sad dull eyes of a woman dying of AIDS to the defiant stare of the man who is taking on the US government in court, all reveal part of themselves to the photographer and us the viewer.


Pakistani tribesman Kareem Khan, 43, poses with images of his deceased brother Asif Iqbal (L) and son Zaenullah during an interview in Islamabad November 30, 2010. Khan said a CIA-operated drone fired missiles at his house in Pakistan’s North Waziristan on the night of Dec 31, 2009, killing his son and brother. He is on an ambitious courtroom quest to get $500 million in compensation and end attacks Washington launches against top militants.  REUTERS/Mian Khursheed


Romanian Nicolae Popa smokes a cigarette as wait he waits for his deportation trial at a south Jakarta court November 29, 2010. Popa was convicted in absentia for defrauding more than 100,000 people in Romania in a massive Ponzi scheme. Popa who was detained in Jakarta for a year will be deported home in December, the National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Iskandar Hasan told a media conference on last Thursday. REUTERS/Beawiharta


A member of the Korean Salvation Army uses a bell to draw attention on a street in central Seoul December 1, 2010.   REUTERS/Truth Leem


Samruei, a 35 year-old terminally ill Thai woman rests at a hospice for those dying of AIDS at a Buddhist temple Wat Prabat Nampu in Lopburi on the World AIDS day December 1, 2010. The temple’s AIDS hospice is the largest of its kind in Thailand, providing housing for HIV positive patients and palliative care for those in the final stages of the disease. Thailand has been widely praised for its work in containing the virus.   REUTERS/Damir Sagolj


Nissan Motors Co Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga (C) is surrounded by media after the launch of the company’s Leaf, at their global headquarters in Yokohama, south of Tokyo December 3, 2010. Japan’s Nissan Motor Co marked a major milestone in automotive history on Friday with the launch of the zero-emission Leaf, the world’s first electric car to be mass-marketed.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Nothing is more pleasing than a picture that reveals more the longer you look at it. The three images below work well at first glance; the woman struggling with the police, the men struggling with bananas and condoms and the beautifully lit image of immaculatley ironed shirts hanging on a rack in the ramshackle chaos of a Kabul bazaar.  But let your eye wander into the background of the frames. The design of Andrew’s picture takes you through to the man wandering past as if nothing was happening. Next, once you have got to grips with what these people are actually doing with the bananas your eye finally settles in the background to find a woman sniggering at the whole scene, making it a wonderful moment and reminding you of the slogans from your childhood when nutritionists launched healthy eating campaigns to try to stop children eating junk food “fruit can be fun” (as long as you take precautions). And finally Masood’s picture reveals a man in the background huddled up against the cold emerging from beyond the edge of the frame, as if he had just popped out of the changing room, but too poor and cold to even think about buying shirts.


Police arrest an activist from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during a strike in Dhaka November 30, 2010. Transport was disrupted and some shops and offices closed on Tuesday as BNP staged a nationwide strike to denounce the  eviction of their leader from her home. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj


A doctor (C) uses a banana to demonstrate how to use a condom to female patients during a lecture on HIV/AIDS ahead of World AIDS Day at a compulsory drug rehabilitation clinic in Suining, Sichuan province November 30, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer


Clothes are hung for sale at a bazaar in Kabul November 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

The sheer misery and dejection of  captured orangutans who are forced to forage for food as their habitat is destroyed by deforestation depresses me nearly as much as the special report can be seen here. On a brighter note all out war on the Korean Peninsula seems less likely than it did last week but anti-North Korea demonstrations continue in the south. The focus on World AIDS Day led to some strong portrait photography throughout the region as photographers continued to help to raise awareness through their work. Peter Andrew’s ended his embed with the Medevac teams in Afghanistan this week and Danish shot a great set of feature pictures at a $3 circus in Mumbai.  Worthy of a mention is the clutter of cycle racks in Tokyo shot by Yuriko and the clean simplicity of Mian’s picture of the welder working on the truck.


Orangutans are tied to the ground as villagers look on in Sungai Pinyuh, Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, November 22, 2010. The primates were captured as they came to the village to look for food and were beaten, resulting to the death of one orangutan, according to a villager. Rainforests cover 60 percent of Indonesia, and yet the country is one of the world’s leading emitters of the  greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The reason is that Indonesia also has one of the planet’s fastest rates of  deforestation. Deforestation is destroying the natural habitats of the primate and driving them out of forests.   REUTERS/Ferry Latif


An illegal logger cuts down a tree to be turned into planks for construction in a forest south of Sampit, in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province November 14, 2010. Rainforests cover 60 percent of Indonesia, and yet the country is one of the world’s leading emitters of the  greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The reason is that Indonesia also has one of the planet’s fastest rates of  deforestation.      REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad


A retired South Korean soldier steps on a North Korean flag before burning it during an anti-North Korea rally in Seoul November 30, 2010. North Korea said on Tuesday it was operating “thousands” of centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant for peaceful use in its first detailed admission of its expanded nuclear capability.   REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won


Christians pray during a fast and prayers for North Koreans’ freedom at a church in Seoul late December 3, 2010.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon


South Korean marines stand guard as other marines dismantle their makeshift military quarters built for a landing drill, after their military exercise was cancelled due to bad weather at Mallipo beach in Taean, about 170km (106 miles) southwest of Seoul, November 29, 2010. U.S. and South Korean militaries started a massive drill on Sunday. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said he felt responsibility for failing to protect  citizens from North Korea’s shelling last week and warned the North against further provocations.   REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won


North Korean soldiers clear snow from a field along the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, November 29, 2010. China called on Sunday for emergency consultations among six governments in moribund talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear programme, adding that they would not amount to a full restart of the negotiations.  REUTERS/Stringer


Sontaya, a 39 year-old HIV positive Thai man who claims to have three wives, all HIV positive, rests at a hospice for those dying of AIDS at a Buddhist temple Wat Prabat Nampu in Lopburi on the World AIDS day December 1, 2010. The temple’s AIDS hospice is the largest of its kind in Thailand, providing housing for HIV positive patients and palliative care for those in the final stages of the disease. Thailand has been widely praised for its work in containing the virus.   REUTERS/Damir Sagolj


U.S. Marines help their wounded comrade while under fire to a helicopter during a Medevac mission in southern Afghanistan‘s Helmand Province November 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Peter Andrews


An elephant and its trainer wait outside the main stage tent before the start of their performance at the Rambo Circus in Mumbai November 28, 2010. Rambo circus travels all over the country throughout the year. It has a seating capacity of 2,000 people and tickets are priced from 150 rupees ($3). According to Rambo Circus owner Sujit Dilip, the ban on the use of wild animals, the lack of new artists and various restrictions by the government have resulted in the drastic decline of the circus industry in India.   REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui


A man pulls out his bicycle at a parking area outside a railway station in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, November 30, 2010.    REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao


Ustad Sadiq, 45, welds a truck at a decorative vehicle workshop in Rawalpindi December 2, 2010. Decorating trucks is a long tradition in Pakistan and drivers use everything from wood, metal, jangling chains, shiny objects and 3D creations to decorate their trucks as a reminder of their home as they travel long distances across Pakistani highways. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed 

Finally it would be rude of me not to mention the sterling work that Mick Tsikas has been doing with the Ashes. There has been lots of English batting and celebration for Mick to get his teeth into. Taking life in his own hands and sitting wide behind the wicket during nets reaped the reward of this great image of the ball thundering directly at the lens of our fearless photographer. Or perhaps it is an optical illusion and the ball is in fact a big bouncy red practice ball for the batsmen? Either way a great picture.


England’s Alastair Cook acknowledges the crowd after he scored a century during the second day of their second Ashes cricket test against Australia in Adelaide December 4, 2010.REUTERS/Mick Tsikas


Australia’s Ryan Harris watches the ball as it hits the nets during a cricket training session, ahead of their second Ashes test against England at the Adelaide Oval December 2, 2010. The second Ashes test will start on December 3. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas


[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Truth , Russell Boyce. Russell Boyce said: #Photos Asia – A Week in Pictures – Eye contact in pictures. Knitted tanks tops, deforestation, Korea, Ashes & AIDS […]

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Thanks, Russel. Eye contact in pictures makes us believe we can share the subject’s thoughts. But can we really? In fact, can we ever understand a fellow human person? Oh wait, went too philosophical already…

Great read and great pix, as usual.


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