Shocking Image Shows Tank Shell Hitting Rebel Outpost in Syria

Freelance photojournalist Tracey Shelton captured the striking image above showing the instant a tank shell exploded in a Syrian rebel outpost earlier this week. She was filming the group of four rebels using her Canon 7D and 28mm, and had just set her camera on a tripod before the explosion occurred. The blast claimed three casualties, while one of the four men, the rebel standing directly in front of Shelton, escaped with minor injuries. Afterward, Shelton selected a number of stills from the 30fps footage and published them to Global Post (the news company she’s freelancing for), along with a vivid account of what had taken place.

Needless to say, the images elicited a strong reaction from the Internet community, with people calling them stunning, heartbreaking, and the most powerful war photographs they had ever seen. Check out the article on the Global Post for the full sequence of images.

Life and death in Aleppo [Global Post]

Thanks for sending in the tip, Jim

Image credit: Photograph by Tracey Shelton/Global Post

  • madmax

    This could be Syria… or my home´s kitchen. Nothing to see.

  • madmax

    By the way: the pic “”he escaped with injuries” is pathetic: What a terrible injury he´s got in his arm!

  • Mansgame

    Have you ever had a piece of burning metal flying at the speed of a bullet embed your arm?

  • Mansgame

    Saw this on Reddit. It’s pretty amazing but as pointed out several times, not sure if this counts as “photography” given that it’s a video still. I’m sure the line will be blurred as video gets better and better, but most video cameras still can’t come close to having the resolution of a still camera.

  • Dr. Know

    The wound is so bad that his arm isn’t even bleeding in the seventh picture.

  • Mansgame

    Well how can I argue with that. Your name says doctor.

  • Dr. Know

    That’s because I am a doctor.

  • kenje

    Tracey isn’t a freelancer for GP, she’s a senior correspondent.
    Madmax, after you’ve survived a tank shell exploding meters away from you, then you can say the injury is pathetic. Until then I’d say stop commenting about it.

  • autumnbringer

    It’s kind of getting into semantics at that point.
    What’s the difference between photography and video with a digital camera? A switch or button on the camera – if that disqualifies an image from being photography, then I feel we may be getting too nit picky.
    You mention resolution, but if that’s the qualifier – then perhaps the really old, less detailed film or digital cameras now don’t count?

  • monteraz

    who cares?

  • Mansgame

    Doctor like Dr. Pepper and Dr. J are doctors? Let’s assume that you are an actual medical doctor, have you examined that guy? How familiar are you with tank related injuries?

  • MCE

    I really cannot believe the pedantic discussion that’s going on here about the injury of the 4th man!

    First, for factual correctness, the web page never claims that he was badly injured. There is no false claim there to attack and there is no reason whatsoever to be negative about either the website or the man in the picture, completely irrespective of who is or is not.a real (medical) doctor around here.

    Second and much more important, this story & these pictures are not in the least about the injury of this man. They are about something much much larger & important. From a photographic & documentary point of view the material is without a doubt of the strongest ever made/release in document the horrors of war.

    The discussion here is so fare has been utterly pathetic and a disgrace.

  • madmax

    “From a photographic & documentary point of view the material is
    without a doubt of the strongest ever made/release in document the
    horrors of war”.
    You can´t be serius saying that! Not only the “injured man” but the work itself is pathetic.

  • targ8ter

    What I can’t figure out is why there’s double-exposure ghosting in the shots she posted, mostly around the ankles of the survivor. It doesn’t make sense, since the 7D isn’t an interlaced camera. It looks like frame-blending.

  • madmax

    Kenje, better don´t be so smart. If a tank shell explodes “meters away” from me, for sure I couldn´t write this.

  • Puriste

    Nobody notice that this picture came from a movie ? NOW SNAPSHOTS ARE PHOTOGRAPHY ?

  • Brian

    If I were you, I wouldn’t bother replying to those discussions. You will see under every PetaPixel post that it’s the same people trolling all the time. They are either 16 year olds with nothing better to do or single and unemployed 35 year old losers trying to make other people’s lives as pathetic and miserable as theirs. To see a typical troll on PetaPixel, just look at the one who gives an answer for every comment on this page. And it’s the same for all other posts. Maybe it’s time for PetaPixel to ban those who are here just to start an argument and troll others. We are talking about an incident where several people were killed, yet they don’t have the slightest decency to show a little respect. I wonder if they still would troll, if the people that were killed were from their family.

  • Andrew

    Maybe the ghosting you are talking about was due to the loss of light due to the amount of dust kicked up be the explosion e.g. a lower shutter speed. Also since she had put her camera on a tripod maybe it was in the process of being knocked over by the shockwave

  • madmax

    And you are going to teach decency to somebody, great master? What do you have to say against 16 years people or 35 years old unemployed? And also dare insult unemployed people calling them losers! Brian, your entire life is pathetic.

  • Isaac Botkin

    the 7D’s auto exposure doesn’t work like that, and the tripod doesn’t get knocked over, as you can see from the later pictures. It’s also odd because the edge of the rolling shutter isn’t so pronounced. My guess is that this is frame-blending from some video-player or NLE, either because she slomo’d the clip or because it was trying to interpret 30p as 29.97.

  • Mute

    How are snapshots related to stills taken from professionally shot HD video?

  • Mute

    I don’t think resolution is a factor in whether something is considering photography or not, but to distinguish between stills from video and stills you would need to clarify intent. Whether that makes any difference to how ‘legitimate’ images like these are I have no opinion, I don’t think it matters if people consider these frames photography or not, they are what they are.

  • Zak Henry

    I think it is actually the effect of a dragged shutter. The pressure front moves over the survivor during the exposure of that frame. We see half before pressure front (pants free hanging) and after the pressure wave (pants plastered against legs).

  • Isaac Botkin

    No, because when the 7D is shooting video the mechanical shutter is locked open. If you are talking about the electronic rolling shutter, that would have a hard edge to it, with the pant legs warping cleanly as they move against the legs. The only way I can figure this ghosting is a) the shockwave moving the lens element during exposure, or b) two frames overlaid.

    Since moving a lens element would cause the entire scene to shift, not just the almost stationary feet, and there is exactly the same type of blur in the later shot after the wave was has passed, it can’t be that. If we’re looking at two frames, one prior to detonation and one during detonation, it would explain a lot. It would explain even more about the next shot, where there are a whole bunch of expanding sparks, each of which is trailed by an identical spark that looks about 1/30 of a second earlier.

  • Zak Henry

    Yes I was talking about the electronic shutter. I don’t understand what you mean by the electronic shutter effect causing a hard line. What I am suggesting is that if we just consider the pixels where the effect is happening (around the pants), the pixel fills with photons from before the shockwave and after before it is dumped to memory for that instantaneous frame. If the camera is shooting at 30fps, the duration of the frame could be as large as 1/30 seconds which is more than enough time for the explosion to have happened during the exposure.

  • David Portass

    Seriously people? OK, while we are at it the exposure looks a little off too…. (sorry, not got the sarcasm font installed on this computer)

    Are the semantics of how the image was captured really more important than what has been captured to you? Regardless of whether this was an actual photo (which this shot would have been impossible to capture unless staged and I don’t for one second believe this was) or is a frame from a video (which is a series of moving PICTURES), this image has to be one of the best war time photos in that what it captures is both amazing that it captures the shell explosion and horrifying that the explosion kills the three soldiers stood next to it. The message conveyed by these images will always be more important than how they were taken in my eyes and the message in this one is a very sad one for all those in it.

  • Nobody

    I don’t think you know what a snapshot is…