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The Bosphorus Bridge, on a FED 50 and Kodak Elite Chrome 100 cross-processed

Give me a few days off and I’ll want to head to Istanbul.

This majestic, chaotic city is a photographer’s dream; a story on every street corner, and history written and repeated, almost at every turn.

I’ve visited this incredible city five times since 2006. And with a few days spare last November, and a couple of friends also keen to drink in the historic skyline, it was time to head back.

It was a whistle-stop visit, with no time to spend catching up with my friends who live there. Instead it was about zipping from site to restaurant to market and bar, always with a camera in hand.

November is a great month to visit Istanbul. The days are short but still bright, and while you might encounter rain, you can also be out in your shirtsleeves til 10pm; it all depends which way the Bosphorus winds are blowing.

I took a handful of cameras this trip, notably a LOMO LC-A 120 medium format camera and some Kodak slide film to xpro; nothing can beat the bright saturated colours and the dramatic LOMO lens vignetting. (Read an earlier blog about Istanbul on the LC-A 120 here)

I managed to get a little bit of SLR shooting on a Minolta SRT 100X, too. It’s a late-70s budget model from Minolta, but a pretty capable camera; the SRT lenses are fantastic, and the camera can meter up to 6400, so it’s a great choice if you want to push black and white film.

Most, however, were taken on a FED 50 compact, the Soviet answer to the famed Olympus Trip 35. The FED’s a chunky 35mm camera that looks like a rangefinder and shoots like a LOMO LC-A; it meters via a huge selenium meter built in to the lens, and work best when there’s plenty of light. And having no mirror to cause loud slaps, it’s a pretty quiet street snapper.

The sights here are the usual cavalcade of a long weekend in Istanbul; the Blue Mosque and the winding streets of the European old city, the view of Bosphorus villages sweeping by from the deck of a ferry, wheeling gulls and the restless rods of the anglers lining Galata Bridge, and the quiet calm of the Haydarpasa Railway Station, home to sleeping trains, patrolling cats, and the occasional wedding party.

Roll on the next visit…

Slate grey skies and sea
A conversation on the Golden Horn
A solitary cat at Haydarpasa station

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Stephen Dowling
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