Jamrock

29 10 2008

April 2008 was a very interesting and eventful month.  The VCU MSA Coffeehouse was obviously a big highlight, we had Tyson and DJ BLM visit from California to perform at the event.  123 was also the site of a crime scene earlier in the month, we had cops everywhere and everything, wiiild.  I’ll let the pictures tell the stories though…

 

 

Fista-cof-feehouse

Brother Ty

April 2008

The MSA gathered a crowd of over 200 to watch Muslims share their creative talents on stage for Coffeehouse 2008.  Tyson and DJ BLM, part of Remarkable Current in California, visited and delivered a unique performance for the audience.  Here, Tyson is pictured on stage during his set with his fist raised, with the VCU Coffeehouse tag on the screen in the background.

 

 

Golden Boy

Golden Boy

Local spoken word poet and social activist, Alex Cena, performs one of his poems on stage for the audience at the Coffeehouse.  The view is seen from behind the drums setup for other acts in the program.

 

 

Showtime

Showtime

Numerous audience members had video cameras setup in the back of the room to record the show.  This shot shows DJ BLM and Tyson being recorded during their performance set.

 

 

NasMUST

NasMUST!!

I’m really only posting this picture so I have an excuse to post a link to Nasreen’s blog.  She came to visit from DC and is seen here standing in front of the art exhibit at the Coffeehouse, which features art from Muslim students at VCU.  Check out her blog though, she’s in the Philippines right now on a Fulbright scholarship, doing research on Islamic financing in the region.  Very interesting 🙂

 

 

Bringin' It Home

Bringin' It Home

It always ends up back at 123.  Tyson and BLM were cool enough to hang out with us after the show and came over to 123 to chill with everybody.

 

 

Sweet Serenade

Sweet Serenade

April 2008

A group of us were sitting on the porch at 123 a week before Coffeehouse when this was taken.  Tayeeb was pretending to play this guitar.  

 

 

Before the Breakdown

Before the Breakdown

So, as you can see, we were just chillin.  Sittin on the porch, playing some music and kickin back.  It was around 1 AM on a Thursday night.  Around 10 minutes after this picture was taken, 3 guys walked up to our front step and posted up.  2 of them pulled out guns and loaded them, one of them actually raised his gun and pointed it at some of us.  

I was standing next to the front door when i initially heard a clanking sound like a gun being loaded.  I looked over to my left and saw one of the guys holding a pistol with his face covered, and then I looked over and saw another guy with his gun raised.  The third was just standing in between, staring at us.  I immediately turned around, opened the door, walked in, and then shut the front door.  Now, I admit, I did seriously contemplate locking the door, even though my friends were still outside, cuz the survivor instinct just kicked in, but luckily I didn’t.  I just walked to the back of the house to make sure the backdoor was locked and then pulled out my phone and dialed 911.  

All of this took place about 15 secs after the guys showed up and everyone else still hadn’t reacted until I again walked back towards the front door.  By that time, our guys finally ran into the house, nearly tripping over each other, and the 3 gunmen ran off.  Apparently, they were thrown off-guard by me walking inside and told everyone else not to go in…but of course they ran in anyways.  Thankfully, no one was hurt and the 3 ran away instead of taking shots.   

The rest of the night was full of police reports and stints of paranoia and anger.  The police had to document the entire occurrence as an attempted robbery, even though no one technically asked for anything.  We like to attribute that to the fact that we reacted before they could do as much.  We were, and still are, very thankful nothing happened.  It was reported that the same 3 guys robbed a group sitting on their porch a few blocks away from our house the same night.  There were also reports of 3 similar guys robbing and pistol whipping people in subsequent weeks.

This was especially freaky for us because a student was shot and killed after being robbed less than a mile away from us the night before by two teenage shooters.  Those guys were eventually arrested and they weren’t the same people, I don’t know if our assailants were ever caught.

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Zu’s DnA

21 10 2008

A good friend, Zuhair, came back to visit us from Michigan after having graduated.  It was a week full of great fun and surprisingly deep conversations.  It was awesome hanging out again.  The guys got together to do the usual, play bball, smoke shisha, play pool, and go to the river.  With this post, I’m mixing pictures from my digital camera and my manual camera from that week.  You’ll probably be able to tell the difference.  

 

 

Abort!

Abort!

Mar 2008

Zuhair goin in for a layup.  I have no recollection of how this turned out, but for his benefit, let’s just say he made it.  Congratulations Zuhair.  This is at the bball court outside of the Cary St. Gym at VCU, across the St. from 123 Cherry (White house on the right).  This court no longer exists, VCU demolished it as part of their plans to expand the whole gym.

 

 

Infinite Air

Infinite Air

Mar 2008

Jumpshot by Zu.  My boy’s got perpetual hangtime in this picture.  Stay fly son.  He made this one too 🙂

 

 

Ballin

Strugglin

Mar 2008

Jamal is pushin for some more air on his layup, while Ausim, Naveed and Kamil are basically just watching to see what happens…

 

 

Lonesome

Lonesome

Mar 2008

It was nearing sunset, both teams were going at it near the hoop.  Waiss was all by himself, hoping someone would see him so he could go for a 3-pointer.  Kosar decided to take it in himself, but Zuhair plays some iron defense on him.  The brick building on the right is the Cary St. Gym.  Because of its status as a historic building, the school was not allowed to tamper with the outer look of the structure.  Now, if you see the building, you’ll see that they gutted the entire structure and the only thing still standing is the brick facade on all 4 sides.  

 

Talking Heads

Talking Heads

 

Mar 2008

Zeeshawn was not posing, he had no clue I was taking this.  A large group was hanging out in Dahman’s room and I snuck up behind Z to get this shot of him gettin some deep reflection on in the middle of the gathering while Sanna and Huma were talking in the background.  

 

 

Sunset Towers

Sunset Towers

Mar 2008

We took Zuhair to the river, close to sunset.  We finally decided not to go all the way down, so we just hung out near the entrance for a while.  Dahman was trying to multitask and study and chill at the same time…you can see how well that’s working out.  Behind Sarwar, the buildings are bathed in the orange light from the sun.

 

 

L is for Loser

L is for Loser

Mar 2008

A bit of foreshadowing by the 7 ball in this game of pool in the basement of the VCU Student Commons.  I don’t actually remember who won or lost this game, but let’s just go along with it and say Dahman, pictured in the background, lost miserably.  Sorry, buddy.

 

 

The Gun Show

The Gun Show

Mar 2008

Sarwar is involuntarily showing off all of his arm muscles while he makes this very simple shot.  Actually, Dahman probably did lose this game for real, he wasn’t even paying attention.





Next Stage

17 10 2008

I finally developed the rolls and got to see how the pictures were turning out, and I was really pleased that they didn’t completely suck.  So, I guess that gave me confidence to start venturing out with the manual cameras some more.  I also picked up a fisheye lens from ebay.  The quality of it is highly questionable, but it still makes for some pretty interesting shots.

Well-Lit

Well-Lit

Feb 2008

This is def one of my favorite pictures.  I drove around one night with my camera and a tripod that I bought from CVS, which completely sucked and ended up breaking.  I was experimenting with taking night shots and I took a bunch of pictures of the Richmond skyline.  For this one, I ended up next to the James River, over the hill from the Hollywood Cemetary.  I think this picture really mixes that eerie element with the downtown feeling that makes this part of the city unique.

Incomplete

Incomplete

Mar 2008

I hyped up Philly so much at home that my family wanted to check it out.  So, during spring break, we all took a road trip up for a few days.  Here, we ended up at Penn’s Landing, which was great, but just extremely cold this time of year.  I couldn’t be in the group picture, so my mom saved a spot for me 🙂

Love/Hate

Had Enough

Mar 2008

The cold was really starting to get to everyone.  Shortly after this, we were finally on our way back home after an interesting weekend roadtrip with the family.

Fishy

Fishy

Mar 2008

Dahman usually becomes a regular subject in my photography, because he’s generally around whenever I feel like experimenting with anything.  The day I got my fisheye lens, I ran up into his room and got really close to his head with it, and got him to turn around.  I quickly snapped this picture, which probably caught him off guard, he was in the middle of writing some paper.

Light Balls

Light Rail

Mar 2008

On another night of adventurous photography, I ended up near the river again and took this picture of a guardrail.  The lights in the background are from streetlamps that illuminate the ramp for the highway in the distance.





Unknowed

17 10 2008

 

After getting my manual cameras, I went on a rampage for a while and started taking as many pictures as I could.  I don’t even remember how many rolls of film I went through…but it was quite a bit.  I have a lens setup I’m comfortable with now, I use a 50mm fixed lens and I attach a 2x teleconverter on it, to double the zoom when I need to get a closer shot.  

I had started to collect a bunch of film rolls that I used up before I took them anywhere to get developed, so I had no clue how the pictures were turning out.  All of these pictures are from those first few rolls of film.

 

 

Glam

Glam

Feb 2008

Zeeshawn was chillin upstairs in the Student Commons, under the flags that hang for the Greek organizations of campus.  Alot of MSA kids gather around that spot after Friday prayer to socialize and catch up.  Zee was in the middle of a conversation, listening to someone talk, when I took this.

 

Spotted

Spotted

Feb 2008

Still, upstairs in the Commons, some guys were gathered.  Mo caught me while I was taking this picture.  

 

 

Seeing Double

Seeing Double

Feb 2008

As is typical Friday afternoon ritual, we all went to Coliseum Deli for lunch.  This picture of Mo came out really cool, the shadowy face next to his is actually Umair.  I still haven’t quite figured out what I make of this picture, I think it’s really interesting.

 

 

 

123 Lives

123 Lives

Feb 2008

For those who are still unfamiliar with what 123 is, maybe this picture will clarify.  This is from the same scene from a few posts ago, I had just switched to my manual camera for this, and the next few pictures.

 

 

Squint

Squint

Feb 2008

Sarwar is chillin on the porch, squinting his eyes because it was so bright.  The lens has such a shallow depth of focus that I focused it on his eyebrow, and the rest of his face is blurred.  I love how precise it is.

 

 

Still Fresh

Still Fresh

Feb 2008

This shot of Naveed is pretty similar to the other one in a previous post.  I think this one has more detail though, thanks to the lens on the manual camera.

 

 

Visiting Hours

Visiting Hours

Feb 2008

Asif came to visit from VT.  He hung around with us for a little bit before he had to head out again.





Shift To Manual

16 10 2008

 

Towards the beginning of 2008, I found a vicious deal on some manual camera sets – fully stocked with lenses and everything.  I’ve been wanting to upgrade to an SLR camera, but digital SLR’s are too expensive, so I decided to go old school and hook it up with some 35mm film SLR;s.  I got the rolls developed and they made digital copies, but the colors are kind of off.  Eventually, I’ll get around to making decent scans of the orginals so I won’t have that problem.  But, for now, these are what I’m using.  

 

This is my first time with a manual camera, so I had to go through a few rolls to really figure out what I was doing.  In the process though, I did end up with some pictures that I really like.  

 

 

Perfection?

Perfection?

Feb 2008

Before I realized I needed filters on my lenses to get colors to turn out right, all my pictures were strangely distorted.  Luckily, this one came out just fine.  My brother shows off his smooth bowling form during a youth group bowling trip to the AMF lanes.  

 

 

Image of the Champ

Imagine the Greats

Feb 2008

Some guys were hanging out in Dahman’s room at 123.  Friends would regularly gather to take a break from studying and school and just relax in his memorabilia-filled room.  The poster on the wall is a picture of Muhammad Ali after knocking out Sonny Liston in the first minute of the first round of a Heavyweight Championship fight.

 

 

Stay Focused

Stay Focused

Feb 2008

I wandered into the library and started taking pictures of people (that I know!).  I found Shrinal trying to do some work, I didn’t realize she was left-handed…

 

 

Shirts & Skins

Shirts & Skins

Feb 2008

My cousin, Shawn, is a huge Redskins fan, as seen by the hat.  This is an example of what happens when you don’t use lens filters to fix the light.  Had to learn the hard way.  It does make for an interesting effect though.  This picture was taken at the Mandarin Halal Chinese Restaurant in Springfield, while we were waiting for our food.

 

 

Camera Battle

Camera Battle

Feb 2008

I was in the library with my camera again and Ali tried to show me up with the camera on his walkman phone.  Sadly, I think he totally owned me, that thing has a vicious camera!

 

 

Uighur!

Uighur!

Feb 2008

Arafat was chillin during a break in an MSA event when I took this.  The Uighur people have an amazing story that everyone should really learn more about, look em up (or click the link).  

 

 

Friyaz

Friyaz

Feb 2008

Farhad was also hangin out during an MSA event at VCU when I took this picture.  

 

 

Motherly

Motherly

Feb 2008

This is probably the first picture I took of my mother using this camera.  The colors are def off because I didn’t use any filters.  You can bet I’ll be taking more soon, we’ll see if there’s any improvement.

 

 

Barackin'

Barackin

Feb 2008

That’s right.  Barack Obama was laying in my bed.  My brother was tryinna sleep and he put the magazine on his face, not realizing how perfectly it lined up…





Urban Portraits

14 10 2008

One of my favorite things to photograph, if you haven’t figured out by now, is people.  I love doing portraits.  Luckily, my friends are pretty easy on the eyes, that really helps 🙂  Most of these are actually from the 123 porch, and all of them are candid.

 

Sunset

Sunset

1/18/08

Shak is hit by the sun’s rays as it sets.  This is my favorite time of day to take pictures, the color of the light is just amazing.  He sits amongst a group of friends, taking a relaxing break from school and chilling in the Student Commons at VCU.

 

 

Cheery

Cheery

Dahman has an opportunity to meet up with an old friend in the Student Commons and they all share some jokes that remind them of the good ol’ days.  

 

All Chuckles

All Chuckles

Sarwar sits with a group of good friends on the steps of 123, laughing, chilling, and of course…smoking shisha.  I switched over to B&W to capture most of these shots.

 

The Freshest

The Freshest

Naveed, who was a freshman at VCU at the time, takes in some smoke on the 123 steps with some friends.  

 

Santa

Shout Outs To Santa

 

Sarwar blows out a thick cloud of white smoke that covers part of his face.  Almost looks like a nice, big, white beard, no?

 

Flashback

Mufti, chillin with the group, with the cobblestone alley behind her.

 

10 Cents A Day

10 Cents A Day

Close-up on Mufti while she was talking.

 

 

Where I'm From

Where I'm From

 Dahman gives me a look while he’s chillin on the steps.  Behind him, a pair of sneakers hang from a wire.  I tried many times, unsuccessfully, to get those down.