Alsancak in the Evening
Friday February 2, 2018
The weather has been exceptionally warm in Izmir this winter. Summers are clearly getting hotter too. People who have summer homes get out of the city for one or two months in the hot weather. It is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, one will melt down in this city. I think we are in for a hotter one this year. Global warming is taking hold. I wonder where all that ice is that Donald Trump talks about. It is not building up here. But then, he is in a quite different dimension.
As the afternoon comes to an end, I need to get out of the house so I think I better hit the streets for a while for a walk. I take my camera with me. I want to shoot the roll of black and white film mainly in the evening after darkness has fallen. I will never use a flash.
It is a quick trip by metro from my place to Konak where there is a big bus hub. It is a strait and fast shot through the tube underground. Very efficient city transportation, as long as everyone leaves it alone. From there, I catch the city bus over to Alsancak. I will head for the old traditional area, with traditional houses and buildings. The bus and metro is free for those my age. That is, for those over the hill. One should get something for their taxes.
Arriving in Alsancak, the problem is that now I am quite devoid of inspiration for taking pictures. I sit down on a bench in the small park near the bus stop to allow the dusk to slowly turn into darkness. I think about what I really want to do. What do I want? Well, I must have some people in the evening shots. Show some of the life of the area, I hope. After a bit, I venture out and join the crowds crossing the wide and busy street to the mall with shops on both sides of a wide walkway.
I do not want to take pictures here, at least not now. I will explore some of the side streets that run to the Kordon along the sea. The big fancy restaurants are along the mall. These small, narrow, streets have small funky restaurants that cater more to students and avant-garde types. They fill up in the evenings, especially on the weekends. I do not know them, but I am sure many of them are excellent.
I pass by one of my favorite pubs. People are outside drinking. It is crowded on both sides of the street. People are sitting outside where it is possible to smoke while they enjoy a few drinks. Eating and drinking. Non-stop, it seems in this city. Almost all are university age young women and men. They seem to have plenty of leisure and plenty of money as well. They are certainly not from the peasant classes. One will find that over on the other side of the city.
As it gets darker I realize that the electric heaters on the sides of the buildings above the tables cast a nice reddish light on the people sitting below. It looks like a good place to try some evening shots. I start to get some inspiration. I grab a high table on one side of the narrow street, closed to traffic, and order a beer. From this vantage point, I can try some shots.
After a few frames, I shift closer to the center of the lane, hoping to photograph young people as they pass through. This is pretty hard to do, as it is difficult to get a clear shot. Usually some person steps in the way just at the wrong time. But I try getting a few shots. Not a great prospect.
I finish my beer and do some street tramping. But clearly, this area is where the action is. It is still early in the evening. People are just starting to flock in for the evening leisure. After half an hour of tramping, things have become more crowded. I walk around to another street to one of my favorite places, called Sardunya (geranium).
I come inside. The couple of guys at the bar recognize and greet me. I love grabbing a beer or two here after a few hours of pounding the streets. It provides me a good rest and I am usually here before the crowds appear. It is an incredibly beautiful old building. I was amazed the first time I saw it. I hope it will never be demolished. It is probably historical and protected by law.
Inside, I climb up the steep steps to the upper floor. There is another small bar here and rooms with tables. It is very historical with the beautiful rough stone walls criss-crossed with wooden planks, as in old Germany. The place is still almost empty, so I can get some clear pictures. It is quite dark inside. Just enough light for a hand-held camera, without using a flash. With my Leica, I can go to 1/15 second at f 2.5. It turns out to be just about the right exposure, pushing the Ilford ISO 400 film to ISO 1600. I am pretty sure that I will get some good shots.
Of course, in the age of bright-colour digital photography, most people do not care for black and white photographs. Perhaps they do not understand why one would make them. But it is certainly more of a challenge to know how to manage the light and get some good pictures.
I come back down the steep steps to the ground floor and take a seat in the room near the street for a beer. Everything looks like it was out of the l920s. I really love this atmosphere of old stone walls and thick aged timbers. Tables and chairs too are right out of the past. Modernity is insufferable boring.
I order a beer. I love these big cold half-liter mugs of Bomanti draft beer. It is mostly water, of course, but I think it is a fine drink in moderation. I rest my feet as the bitter cool balm settles into my stomach. That is good for some inspiration. But, then, I will be out of film.
Two young university students are working here tonight. It seems that they know me from their friend Nilufer. She has mentioned me to them because they are in the same department and she is reading my book on political economy. Girls want to read my book, not they guys. They want to learn.
They are students are a big local university. They slip inside and say hello. They tell me that they are studying international relations in the same department. When I ask about Nilufer, they tell me she has quit the place and found another job at the IKEA store. More people begin to come as the place starts to fill up for the evening.
I slowly finish my beer. One of the girls talks to me again and tells me that she will graduate at the end of one more semester. I congratulate her and ask her if she thinks she will get a job. She is not sure about that. Actually it is pretty hard for university graduates. There are not enough jobs, even though there is quite a lot of economic growth.
These young women are very successful students. I admire the way they can learn and study in a foreign language. I am sure, they do it much easier that I ever could have. They seem to me to be incredibly bright. I enjoy having a talk with them. I wish them well and hit the street once again.
I have a few more frames on the film to shoot on the way to the bus stop. I will finish out the roll of film on the mall where the street lamps are now bright and there is a good deal of light coming from the shops. The crowd out on the street is amazing. It is said that in Izmir, people never stay home. They have to get out of the house.
I head for the bus stop, knowing that it will be quite crowded, rather packed, at least for a few stops. But one has to put up with it. I hope to get some decent results when I develop the film. I hope it is worth it.
I will develop the film using Kodak HC-110 developer. One shot, five millilitres in 320 ml of water. (1 to 63) I develop the film for 20 minutes at 24 degrees. Then I will scan the negatives.
A little exercise helps one get a better sleep. Photography seems to be a good way to do it.
February 10, 2018