The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.


I'm sure it's a peaceful stone.

Reuters stringer Mohomad Torokman probably thought he was composing a heroic-looking shot here. The isolated subject, devoted to her cause, launches the determined projectile (of peace) at the unsuspecting Zionists sitting somewhere behind the lens.

I think he did a terrible job at it, though.

The look on her face ruins the shot completely. It tells me one thing, and one thing only: This woman hates the Jews, in every single way. So much so that the only recourse she thinks she has is to attempt to cause them bodily harm by launching projectiles at them.

How in the world is one supposed to negotiate for peace with someone like that, I wonder?

A Palestinian woman throws a stone towards Israeli soldiers during a weekly protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, January 7, 2011, after a Palestinian woman, Jawaher Abu Rahme, died following a protest in Bilin last week. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK)

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 Tags: REUTERS mohamad torokman #Intifada


#1 Anonymous 09-Jan-2011

What's more is that the composition of the shot is poor; the woman's face, a key part of the message, is framed dead in the centre both horizontally and vertically, meaning we get to look at a lot of clouds, which i guess is better than a clear blue sky. Her clothing is devoid of texture and is no more than a silhouette black. Focus is OK, though.  Overall, it would need work were any serious photo editor to accept that for publication, without further cropping of the picture. The fact that this is considered good enough for publication indicates that the standards seem low based on artistic merit alone. On the other hand, it makes another good picture if you want to show Jew Hate.

#2 Brian C. Ledbetter 09-Jan-2011
Anon,You *rule!*Regards,Brian
#3 B.C. 09-Jan-2011

Are you sure she's not the star pitcher for the Palestinian national fastpitch softball team, merely throwing batting practice?  You know, since those Eeeeevil Joos keep the poor, oppressed Palis, well, so poor and oppressed, they have to resort to using rocks for practice and save the actual softballs for their home games. ;-)


#4 Anonymous 10-Jan-2011

I've had another look that picture, and the set of 8 pictures that this picture is part of.

1) The almost black jilbab the woman is wearing would create problems if this picture were to be printed. The area of solid (almost) black would create problems if printed, since it would either have to be printed as a solid black, or as process (CMYK) color which can introduce unwanted tinting to that area. Solid blacks tend not to print evenly on printing presses.

2) The telegraph pole in the background is either a) leaning at an angle (of about 5°), or b) the picture not square and has been shot at an angle. Comparing the angle of the pole to the people in the background, it seems likely that they are at the same angle as the pole, implying that the picture was shot tilted. If the shot is tilted, the ground behind the woman is not a hill, but is a minor rise and otherwise almost flat. Also, if the picture is tilted back 5° so the pole is vertical, then the people in the background are at a lower level than the woman, so she may be standing on the crest of a hill.

3) Reuters may require that photos submitted to them are un-retouched and not modified in any way out of the camera. Reuters has previously had to withdraw modified pictures (e.g. Adnan Hajj and his Beirut smoke picture). This may explain the tilt and poor framing of this picture.

4) In general, good pictures tell a story, and you should be able to get an idea of what is happening without resorting to accompanying text. In the picture background, you have some people who might be retiring from smoke or tear gas in the bottom right of the picture, although the attitude of the people near the pole indicates that there is no urgent event that requires all their attention. Overall, you are forced to read to caption to understand what is happening in the picture. This is quite important, since the picture is inadequate either by accident or design, to tell you what is happening without resorting to the caption.

4) Each of the other 7 pictures in the series has a boilerplate text at the end of the photograph description, "...during a weekly protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, January 7, 2011, after a Palestinian woman, Jawaher Abu Rahme, died following a protest in Bilin last week." I think this boilerplate is the key to this series of pictures: the constant repetition of this boilerplate description to try to create the impression that correlation implies causation in Jawaher's death. Since the protests occur weekly, this implies that the protest would have gone ahead anyway. In the caption, there is nothing to indicate that this protest is any different from the previous week's protest, so there does not need to be an explanation that would add to an individual picture that would enhance our understanding of that individual photograph in that context. So, we are left to presume that each of these pictures carries this caption to push the meme that the IDF killed Jawaher.  Elder of Ziyon has a lot of information on Jawaher, with indications that she may have died from leukaemia (i.e natural causes) and that she was under medical treatment for this at the time of her death, and that she may not have been participating or even near the previous week's protest.

5) As the caption just says she died after a protest was held, then this is probably precisely true, but may give a false impression on the reader; where the two events are linked even though they may have nothing to do with each other. If they held a protest, and some time after that Jawaher died from causes unrelated to this protest, then this caption would not be telling any lies, as she had indeed, "died following a protest". This means that Reuters would not have to retract this photo/caption since it is strictly true, but misleading. Had the caption read, "... killed by IDF tear gas fired at a protest in Bilin last week.", then this may have had to be withdrawn by Reuters should it be shown that Jawaher's death and the previous protest are not causatively related. Each picture has the "died following a protest" that hammers the point over and over again to instil in the readers mind the impression that Jawaher was killed at a protest the previous week (regardless of whether she was or not.)

And so this is my analysis of the photograph: that it seems to exist more as a carrier for the propaganda on the death of Jawaher than through its intrinsic artistic or news value. Only one of the pictures in the series do I see and ask myself, "What is on the poster that the 'foreign activist' is showing the IDF?", and for that the caption provides the missing information. All other pictures do not need the Jawaher information to understand the pictures.

#5 DirtCrashr 10-Jan-2011

"A weekly protest" - is that like the Palesetinians' "Two Minutes of Hate?" Is she throwing the rock at Emmanuel Goldstein?

#6 Brian C. Ledbetter 10-Jan-2011

Anon#4: Your analysis is spot-on, and is exactly what I aspire to produce, if I could just figure out how to be less lazy.

DirtCrashr: Believe me, these types of protests are a regular topic of conversation around here... ;)

Thanks to both of you for sharing your commentary!


#7 African Moondog 22-Jan-2011

Good propaganda images should show pinched, malnourished, rage contorted faces protesting the evils of the Zionazi regime. Her face is too placid and too well fed. I suggest that Reuters send the photographer to Pakistan for further training.

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