Today in Palestine

1. A Palestinian demonstrator holds portraits of late South African Leader Nelson Mandela and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as he stands in front of Israeli soldier during the weekly demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah on Dec. 6, 2013. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

2. A placard depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela hangs on a barbed wire as a Palestinian protester reacts to tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes at a weekly demonstration against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah on Dec. 6, 2013. (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

(via andrewwadenunn)




Female sniper from the YPG.

The YPG (Popular Protection Units) of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) considers itself a popular democratic militia with the mission of maintaining order and protecting the lives of those living in Western Kurdistan and citizens living in the primarily Kurdish districts of Syria against both regime forces, FSA and AL Qaeda affiliates attacks.

They are against Assad, FSA and Al Qaeda? 

Right on.

The Kurds are possibly the closest thing to modern Spartans. I love the Kurdish people, more than I can possibly say.

An aspect of war

What would you do if you were a 22-year-old soldier, nine months into a tour of duty fighting for the US in Vietnam, and every night you didn’t know if a sniper was going to shoot you in your bed?

For James Speed Hensinger, the answer was to get out his camera.

In April 1970, the compound of the 173rd Airborne Brigade had been receiving sporadic night-time visits from a lone Viet Cong gunman, firing down on the soldiers in their huts with an automatic AK47 rifle.

After a while, James explains: “We were pissed off. We decided to use a ‘heavy’ response the next time the sniper hit us.”

The next night, James set himself up in a guard tower near the perimeter of the camp. Using a 35mm Nikon FTN camera, a camera release and some sand bags for a tripod, he waited.

Sure enough, when darkness fell the lone sniper opened fire. And the US army unleashed hell.

From the left and right, two 7.62mm M60 machine guns peppered the hills with rounds, shooting one red tracer for every four normal bullets.

Down in front of James an M42 Duster open turret tank fired its twin 40mm anti-aircraft guns, with its huge white tracers followed by large explosions.

Finally, this was all supplemented by high explosive shells shot from an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, creating white bursts without tracers.

Using long exposures between 15 seconds and one minute, James was able to capture the action with some breath-taking photographs.

He had no idea what they would look like when he mailed them home to be developed, and was amazed when he returned from his 12-month tour to find he had brilliantly recorded the power and force of the American response.

James had kept the pictures to himself until now, choosing to release them to the public in celebration of this year’s Memorial Day in the US.

And though the 66-year-old from Westminster, Colorado remained an enthusiastic photographer, he has never been a professional, instead going on from the army to careers as a petroleum geologist, Volkswagen mechanic, university librarian, software developer, published author, IT manager, and corporate manager.

And did they ever catch the Viet Cong sniper?

“We sent out patrols during the day,” James says, “and found a blood trail one morning. Otherwise, we never found him.

“The rocks on the slope were as big as Volkswagens. It took a very stupid officer to put a pin in the map and say, “Build it [the camp] here.”

Richard Mosse is an Irish contemporary artist working in photography and video.

Mosse’s practise is concerned with post-war and post-catastrophe landscape, linguistics, loss and memory

Richard Mosse: The Impossible Image from Frieze on Vimeo.

Lektionen In Finsternis Aka Lessons of Darkness.

Werner Herzog, 1992

Direction: Werner Herzog
Production: Lucki Stipetic
Cinematography: Paul Berriff
Editing: Rainer Standke
Sound: John Pearson

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Lessons of Darkness - Werner Herzog (1992) Trailer from g.

Some eastern sea that lay heavily in the dawn, attended in its far horizon by walls of smoke and crowned by spires of fire and hot gouts of burning oil arching in the air. This deceptive sea reflecting the sky above is made of crude oil. Notable enfant terrible of the called “New German Cinema”, Werner Herzog mounts his camera on a helicopter and takes us through the war-ravaged desolate landscapes of Kuwait’s oil fields, in 1991

Yet oddly enough and perhaps contrary to what anyone would assume, there’s no politics involved, no topical Gulf War content through which to see the destruction. This is pure Apocalypse stripped of all context and left to sear its awe-inspiring images into the viewer’s memory. These oil fires the result of the scorched earth policy of Iraqi military forces retreating from Kuwait in 1991 after conquering the country but being driven out by Coalition military forces.

In a truly apocalyptic manner, Herzog simply invites us to “come and see” the works of Man. Reciting short passages from the book of the Apocalypse as sweeping aerial shot after sweeping aerial shot expose a land ravaged by war, the earth tarred far as the eye can see, a vast steppe of black tending to the rim of the world, the skies charred by enormous fires and billows of smoke. This is really a documentary on the apocalypse, on some end to the world, the Gulf War a paradigm of all wars to end it with. A truly awe-inspiring spectacle of destruction and abandonment that mirrors man’s insubstantiality when measured up against nature in his own power to destroy it.

Not a documentary in the traditional sense but mostly a plot less 60 minute expedition in the deep recesses of a wartorn desert that lets the grandeur of its visuals see it through with Kubrickian aplomb. In the end the workers reignite some of the oil wells they previously extinguished. Herzog muses in his voice-over: “Now they are content. Now they have something to extinguish again”.

I just highly recommand this documentary, for people who ask themselves about Man, war, and chaos.

You can get the movie here

Don McCullin: the art of seeing

For the veteran war photographer, emotional awareness is the most important aspect of photography

Homeless man London 1969
A homeless man lying by the embers of a fire in Spitalfields market, London, 1969. Photograph: Don McCullin/Contact Press Images

Many years ago, I used to walk the streets around Brick Lane in the East End of London, looking for homeless people. I was doing a story about derelicts – the human beings who are pushed aside and ignored by our society.

Unlike today, most of the people I encountered were not young. Many were middle-aged men whose lives had failed them, or who had failed themselves. Several of them had been chucked out of mental institutions.

I walked zigzags for hours in the cold each day, knowing that eventually, maybe around the next corner, there would be a confrontation. There was definitely good material out there. These people used to fight each other. They’d threaten me, too.

They’d be lying in the gutter and things like that, and I was determined to bring the whole story together. It was just a case of me having the patience, quickly thinking through the composition when I found something, and then shooting the picture.

You might say there was a question over my mental state as well. Was I behaving right? I certainly felt uncomfortable, but at the same time there was a sense of excitement that I might at any time encounter some amazing scene. There isn’t that much difference between the photographer and the hunter.

Homeless, London, United Kingdom
Homeless Irishman, East End, London, 1969 Photograph: Don Mccullin/Contact Press Images

Among the pictures I got was one of a man lying by the embers of a fire in Spitalfields market (main image), as well as a portrait of him looking straight at me (left), covered in dust and dirt from the fire. You can see the truth in those photographs, I think. If you slept on the streets for a few weeks, I wouldn’t need to manipulate a photograph of you to show it.

But seeing – really seeing – has nothing to do with photography. And it rewards you with pleasure. I love looking at the sky. I love looking at detail. I think anybody with an intelligent mind can look at something through their own eyes and assess its value. You can feast your eyes on a daily basis, although I suspect the average man on the street goes through life with narrowed vision, not seeing the whole scope of what’s going on around him.

There’s such an abundance of imagery at our fingertips these days that people are looking into screens all the time, but that isn’t where the world is. In the house where I live, I can wake up in the morning, open the curtains and occasionally see deer on the lawn, because we live in totally open country. That moment is like a new birth. It brings so much energy and joy with it that I feel like I can accomplish anything that day. Photography is just about showing the truth of that. The most important thing – and if any photographer wants to disagree with me, they can go off into oblivion – is your emotional approach.

I never use flash, I don’t believe in cropping, and there’s no way I’m going to manipulate a street photograph other than to get the composition right. I’ve only ever staged one picture in my life, in 1968, when I found a dead North Vietnamese soldier whose possessions had been rifled through by some American marines during the Tet offensive. They walked away making derogatory remarks about this man, calling him a “gook” and so on.

A dead North Vietnamese soldier and his plundered belongings, Hue, 1968
A dead North Vietnamese soldier and his plundered belongings, Hue, 1968. Photograph: Don Mccullin/Contact Press Images

I decided this wasn’t right, so I shovelled his possessions together – his pictures of his family, his pathetic little medical kit and his bag of bullets – and photographed them at the foot of his dead body (pictured left). I know it was staged, and I did it as a statement. I have to own up to that. I just thought it was important that this man’s voice could somehow be heard.

Some people say that truthfulness is impossible in photography. But if you’re in a battle in Vietnam, watching young men dying and trying to kill other men, and there’s no truth in that, where is there truth? When you see Eddie Adams’ picture of the police chief shooting a man in Saigon, there is absolutely no doubt in your mind that you are looking at the ultimate disgusting truth of what happened that day.

Would moving the camera five inches to the left make any difference? I’m not saying that composition is not important. Even photographing a man throwing a grenade, I would be sure to take a split second to compose the shot.

Henri Cartier-Bresson could see more clearly than others, and he always managed to get the moment that most people wouldn’t have seen, and yet when you look at his pictures, they are always perfectly composed. He was like a kind of sniper. He made sure that the people in his photographs just walked in to the perfect place by the time he pressed the shutter. The photograph he took of some women on a hill in India looking at the sunset is the most biblical picture I’ve ever seen.

This is why I really believe photography is about making an emotional commitment to where you are and what you’re doing. I try to cut out the technical side as much as possible. If you’re in a refugee camp, the knapsack you carry on your back is the weight of moral obligation, and the fear of failing.

People sometimes ask me: “Do you hide behind the camera?” What a ridiculous thing to say! “Do you ever hide from your own emotions?” That’s the question they should be asking.

Sometimes, when you think you might be about to take a great picture, the brain starts scrambling your eyes. But if you’re doing a slow, hand-held exposure, for example, you must be still and control your breathing in spite of all the excitement. Even now, when I stand on the edge of a field here in Somerset to take a landscape picture, it’s not about getting the photograph, it’s about being there. Don’t waste time. Look at what’s in front of you.

Don McCullin // The Guardian, Thursday 15 November 2012

Emilio Morenatti / AP

1.Afghan Girls, october 4, 2004

Local children watch U.N. workers unloading ballot kits from a helicopter in Ghumaipayan Mahnow village, some 410 kilometers (256 miles) northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2004, in advance of a direct presidential vote five days later. Air transport is the only way to deliver the electoral material to the virtually inaccessible rural areas of Badakhshan province.

2. A Pakistani displaced man holds his baby next to his tent in Jalozai refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, June 8, 2009. Fighting in the Swat province is still going on. At one point, up to 3 million people have fled the fighting. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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Emilio Morenatti (b. 1969, Spain) is an Associated Press staff photographer based in Madrid, Spain. He has covered major international stories exclusively for AP since 2004.

In 2009 he lost his left foot to amputation after the vehicle in which he was riding was struck by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.

Emilio has years of experience in war zones, working for AP in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Palestinian Territories. While on assignment in Afghanistan on 11 August 2009, Emilio was injured in a bomb blast. He is now back in action and based in Barcelona as the AP chief photographer for Spain and Portugal.

El Salvador's brutal civil war: What we still don't know

"The Camera Is a Shield" John Hoagland, Combat Photographer by Maggie Jaffe

"I don’t believe in objectivity. Everyone has a point of view. But I won’t be a propagandist for anyone. If you do something right, I’m going to take your picture. If you do something wrong, I’m going to take your picture also.

John Hoagland