Evening in March

Evening in Early March

I am often drawn to the old classical part of Izmir, Alsancak. In this part of the city, near the sea port, many old buildings still survive. Many have now been converted into beer halls. The streets and pubs are crowded with young people in the evenings. On the weekends, the tables on the narrow streets are also crowded with young people, mostly students. It is an incredibly funky area of the city. It always amazes me. Forget half-liter beers. Many places sell it by the full liter. Where do these young people get so much money to spend? It is a rich city. But places here are not expensive. They are mostly for students.

I reach the area easily with the metro and bus. Transportation is free for me. Here, one gets something back for their taxes. I have never had any objection to such socialistic benefits. Indeed, social welfare has never caused me any harm, so I am amazed that some people object to it. Of course, I am not thinking of Americans who all certainly have a great appreciation for social welfare.

I put Ilford ISO 400 black and white film in my Leica. It is nice for making pictures at night, pushing the film two stops to ISO 1600. A tripod is not necessary as I can shoot down to 1/15 of a second at f 2.5. This will be more than enough for streets with some lighting and even inside dark pubs. I like how the pictures look and one can get a surprising wide depth of field even at 2.5 with my Leica Summarit 35 mm lens.

But first, I need some serious darkness and bright street lights. I also need a big draft beer to give me some inspiration. It is a somewhat thankless task, I suppose, but someone must do it. Someone must meet the challenge of ubiquitous selfies with cell phones. I am just an old crazy on the street, so hardly anyone pays attention to me with my classical gear. Most here have probably never seen a film camera.

After a walk down the long crowded mall with bright lights and shops, I turn into a small lane for Varuna Gezgin. It is almost packed, as usual. The walls are lined with paperback books, old sewing machines, old radios, and old wind-up clocks. I can only get a seat at the bar, which is a four-sided square in the middle of one of the large spaces. An amazing place with several large-screen videos playing. Some showing sports. European football. I am not too big on this feature, actually. But my vantage point is worth a couple of pictures.

The place has a long list of domestic and foreign beers. And wines. And food. An older couple wanders in, occasionally. But the crowd is largely youth. Sometimes an old timer like me.

The place is not just a pub, but a restaurant too.

But there is not much going on if one is not with a group.

After a draft beer, I head down toward the other side of the mall toward the railway station. There are many pubs and restaurants in these narrow lanes. One is called the Dinosaur Bar. I have made pictures in here before in the daytime. There is somewhat of an American sixties atmosphere with a large painting of Che on one wall.

There are almost secret passages running to the back, narrow spaces with small tables where students are getting enormous draft beers through a square hole in the wall. The space for the bar is quite small. The older bartender and a couple of girls are helping to serve. I take a high stool at the back from where I can take some pictures. I have another beer here. It is interesting for a couple of pictures, but not the liveliest of places.

After a beer, I am back on the street. Still early, waves of young people are pouring into the area from the direction of the train station. Avoiding the occasional cars, I get a few pictures of people on the streets.

A better place is La Puerta across the street, but I will not get there tonight. It too is large and rich.

Across to the other side, almost to the Kordon and the sea, the small lanes are packed with tables. Non-stop eating, drinking, smoking. Leisure. Keyfi. That’s the name of the game in Izmir. Almost non-stop leisure. Day and night. But tonight, I work with my camera, almost. Young lovers stroll by.

In front of a beautiful old pub that I know, Sardunya (Geranium), are tables with oil lamps burning and crowded with young people. I see that it is a good vantage point for a couple of shots. I order a beer and use up a couple of frames of film. These young beauties are everywhere. A constant stream of them flowing out of every lane. Filling up the pubs. Most are quite innocent of life, I suspect.

I take my beer inside and find a table in one of the old classical rooms. I love the atmosphere in this place. Sometimes the music is good, but I would like more old sixties songs. I talk to some young students, studying international relations in a local university. I think they are incredibly bright and talented. I think they will succeed in life.

I will finish my beer and head out, having finished my roll of film. It will be interesting to see what I have when I develop it.

None of this checking the back of the camera or the cell phone as with digital. I will only have digital images, after I scan the film. But I will always have the film to make prints, if I will take the time. That takes a good deal of time. It is easy to see why people prefer to use digital.

Developing black and white film is simple. One only needs two chemicals, developer and fixer. I load the film into a Patterson developing tank in my dark room. I develop the film at 24 degrees. I wash the film for one minute with distilled water. Then add the one-shot developer. Kodak HC-110 (5.2 ml of developer in 325 ml of water). This takes 20 minutes. Since I am pushing the film, I double the time to 20 minutes. After that, the stop bath is just distilled water for a couple of minutes or so. Then add the fixer for four to five minutes. Then wash the film in tap water for eight to ten minutes at around 24 degrees. After that, just add a couple of drops of Kodak Photo-flo 200 in water for 30 seconds. Then hang the film up to dry.

When the film is dry, it can be scanned.

March 7, 2018


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