Episode 1 – Beginnings

Hello web-slingers and welcome to The Amazing Photo-Man podcast. Every week I’ll read one of The Amazing Spider-Man comics, the originals from the 60s, and share with you how it inspired me to take photos using Peter Parker’s camera.

OK. Time for a little disclaimer.

I am not an amazing photographer. I am still learning the basics of film photography, having to think about what ISO the film is as well as shutters speeds and apertures… well, it’s a huge leap forward for me.

I had already bought an ADOX Golf I online, from France I think. A cheap camera to practice with at the mighty sum of €25. I had decided on this camera and also black and white film to achieve a 1950s aesthetic.

That was before I wanted to read the comics and get my inspiration from there, it may not be Spider-Man’s actual camera. However, I am fully convinced that it is something similar to one Uncle Ben likely had lying around at home for Peter to use and is more authentic to the time period the comic started in.

I have checked around and it seems that 35mm colour film didn’t become popular until after 1965, although it had been around long before then.

OK, so on with today’s episode.

Like all good stories this one is an origins issue.

It was your average Friday evening when my flatmate and I decided to go for a walk, to give my partner some space for a Zoom meeting. He’s been working in our dinning room for the last few months, although that will change by July.

We walked down one of my favourite streets here in Vic, it’s within the medieval centre and is a bit steep, but the old buildings and artistic shops there make it a unique.

This particular day an old radio in a shop window caught my eye, I’d never noticed the antique shop, La Vitrina, there before. I guess I’d always been too busy looking at the empty shop windows, which are used for art displays, these include pottery, sculpture, paintings and more unusual modern pieces.

“Let’s have a look inside!” I whispered to my flatmate, who had been tempted out on the promise of whiskey and beer.

We spent a good few minutes looking at all the curios and old tech before I approached the owner and asked if he had old cameras. There were none to be seen, and having just received my Adox Golf, well, I wanted to see what I could have found more locally.

I had no intentions of spending any more money on another antique or vintage camera that may or may not work.

Victor, the owner kindly started uni-stacking old wooden crates at the back of the shop. After hefting aside a pile of five or six he stuck his hand into the gloom and retrieved the first of his bounty.

My eyes ate up the gorgeous old black leather case and without seeing the name printed on front I popped it open.

Immediately I saw that fantastic atomic logo, that marvellous mid-century monogram. Having done my research to find a decent, yet cheap retro camera I knew it was a Yashica. My heart beat faster.

When I looked up, the display case before me was now littered with a few camera cases, a somewhat muted palette of browns and blacks.

I also spotted an original Kodak box lurking to one side. I calmly set the Yashica down, although it’s lights and name ‘Electro 35‘ had already put me under a spell.

I swear to you, before I could pick up the next camera some spider had tickled my neck with its legs. I presume having dropped from the ceiling or just maybe having scrambled up my arm, annoyed that it’s peaceful photographic home had been so rudely upended.

Without much thought I brushed the spider aside. I did notice a red mark on my neck the next day, had it actually bitten me? Was it remotely radioactive? Could I now climb walls?

Well, I explored the other cameras and asked if I could take a note of maker and model names to do some research. My flatmate was growing a little impatient with the detour.

Victor agreed, and we set back off on our original journey.

I did get right to it, researching the different cameras found in that photographic graveyard. A common Kodak Retinette IA, a rarer 40s/50s Balda Baldini and a very old Ernemann-Werke Heag. I was surprised to discover how old 35mm film was, having dismissed it for 120 film. The later being more common in the 1950s.

I looked into wet plate, sheet film and the history behind the different companies. However, I couldn’t get that monochrome & black leather bodied beauty out of my mind. I looked into the Yashica Electro 35 and found that it had been released in the 60s (I wouldn’t find out until buying it the following Wednesday that the model on offer was the GS and was realised in 1970). It is considered a good cheaper alternative to pricer Leica cameras.

I also discovered that it was Spider-Man’s camera. More correctly it was the camera Peter Parker used in the 2012 The Amazing Spider movie starring Andrew Garfield.

I’d never seen it, but remembered that I had seen the earlier Tobey Maguire films and had loved the cartoon as a kid in the 1990s.

That was it, I would do a complete back track on my decision to ignore 35mm film, I had to have this camera. Even with it’s potential problems and limitations.

The first article I’d read wrongly stated it was the camera seen in the newer Homecoming film, so I sat down to watch it and although disappointed that the camera didn’t make an appearance, I knew what I had to do.

Read the original comics.

How had I ever forgotten my love for Spider-Man?

Side note: I also watched Garfield’s version of Spider-Man and got all giddy at the sight of that amazing piece of tech casually slung over his shoulder.

I am guessing it isn’t uncommon for people to know that Spider-Man originally appeared in a comic as a guest character. It wasn’t long after he had his own, but that first appearance was his origins story in issue 15 of Amazing Fantasy.

©2020 MARVEL

So, that’s what I read this week.

I discovered and remembered a few things about the original arachnid crime fighter while reading. He is a teenager (I keep forgetting that), he made his own web shooter – I could’ve sworn Maguire’s developed post bite, and he did suddenly get super strong and buff with the ability to climb walls with ease.

No mention of improved sight and hearing, especially considering he almost got hit by a car. Also, I now get the whole falling through the roof into an old wrestling ring – was that Garfield or Holland?!

Can anyone tell me why he doesn’t have those cool web-sails for gliding in any of the movies/films? Spider-Man, the original base jumper.

I was surprised by how much focus was put on him needing to earn money to support himself and Aunt May. Our lil’ Petey wanted to go into showbiz. I fully get that the story is one of him discovering the need for, importance of, and desire to help fight crime. Just surprised, or disappointed?, there was’t already mention of him being a photographer.

OK so it was dated with geeky science nerd cliches, the fact that the bullies made him cry and girls didn’t like him for not being a cool tough guy.

Even so, I am looking forward to the next issue, The Amazing Spider-Man number one.

There was this one panel that stuck with me, where he sets off to capture the man responsible for Uncle Ben’s death (surely not a spoiler?!), it’s night and he stands atop a building ready to swing from a light. Or that’s how I remembered it when I went out to shoot this week’s photos.

©2020 MARVEL

I was focusing on the different street lamp styles you can find here in the old centre, in the abandoned industrial estate and the more modern parts of town. Wondering how easily you could swing from them.

Now as I record this, I cannot see the bulb and have realised it’s a flag pole – with the moon shinning brightly beneath. Well, we don’t really have those here anyway and I am still pleased with the results.

One last thing, I am still in the process of cleaning, repairing and restoring the Yashica, so in the meantime I’ll use the older Adox. I’ll update you on that and also tell you all about learning to develop film at home next time.

I’ll start sharing the photos for this week’s episode on Monday. If you don’t want to wait, check out my Patreon for early access.

And it’s here I’ll have to leave you wondering, until the next great episode.

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