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.
This week I read issue number one, and decided that I would rather re-tell the story from the comic with photos of different things, instead of repeating a theme like last week’s street lights one.
In this episode I will also update you about my experience with developing negatives at home.
OK, so let’s do that first.
I ordered the Cinestill Df96 Monobath to develop black and white film as using other techniques, surprisingly for black and white over colour, sounded far too complex for me.
I may be wrong, and will hopefully get to develop and focus on colour photography as soon as I switch to 35mm film on the Yashica Electro 35.
The Paterson’s tank means you can develop in full light, but the first step has to be done in absolute darkness. For the first time ever I stopped grumbling about not having a window in the bathroom.
Simply close the door, push the bathmat up against the bottom of the door and lights off!
The next bit is tricky. Feed the roll of film into the spools, and the twist to wind it on. Pop it in the tank, with the support the right way up, add the inner-lid and lock it into place.
Easy-ish when there’s enough light to see, not too difficult to “assemble” the tank even in the darkness. However, feeding the film into the notches and start the twisting-cranking action. Hellishly hard.
Apparently the size and curliness of 120/medium format film make it much more tricky than 35mm. Yay for me!
The first attempt took me 40 minutes, in the hot humid dark. I dropped the spool, it rolled away and I stupidly put down the film which immediately began to unravel and also fall to the floor.
Now on my hands and knees I started crawling around the bathroom floor sticking out my right hand and grasping at nothingness.
Eventually I managed to find the spool, the light bump in the blackness had guided me toward it. Perhaps my senses had already begun to heighten, was it that spider bite from last week?
Maybe the chemicals from developing were also adding to my new found superhuman senses.
That’d be an origins story! Somewhat Joker-esque. Falling into a bathtub filled with photo negative developing chemicals. Dang! I think I just figured out who Photo-Man’s arch-nemesis would be. The Negative.
S/he runs amok at night avoiding the glaring lights of cars, lurking in shadows ready to attack victims. Mwahahaha.
Meanwhile, Adam aka Photo-Man is now desperately seeking his undeveloped and highly scratched up film on the floor. His finger-tips brushing the film’s small spool sending it rolling further away.
I hit my head on the rim of the toilet. Arrgggh! I lose my temper and sit in the dark crying out about how I had ruined my first photos and screamed into my chest for a moment.
Feeling calmer I try again, this time things go my way. The photographic gods now look on me with favour, or pity. I instantly find the end of the film roll, the correct end too. I sit back and feel the wall immediately behind me, I am sure I know where I am and stick out my left hand to find the spool right where I had left it. Victory!
Now to try feed the bloomin’ film on again. I had to now figure which part of the spool was “the front” the direction the notches open towards, these are tiny little things I had to feel around for and try to feel that they were in-line with each other. When you crank the spool one moves to help feed the film. What feels like aeons later and I’ve done it.
I stand up and cautiously shuffle to the sink, I thankfully had physically-memorised where the tank and it’s components were. Slip, slap, slide-click. Done.
I rush to turn on the lights, took me a second to realise I hadn’t the muscle memory to find the switch yet, blinded but determined I kick the bathmat aside and fling open the door. Cool, dry air rushes in. *sigh*
And that was just the beginning, extractor on now for extra safety. Chemicals in, timer on, external-lid on, *swish-swish*, agitating the chemicals at set times for a set amount of time, *swish-swish*.
Times up, lid off, and time to pour out the reusable chemicals and wash the now negatives inside. Apparently they are not light-sensitive anymore, but I am too nervous to open the lid until the final wash is done. A few drips of that chemical that is supposed to reduce water spots after drying – forget name. Phew!
Taking the film out, still on the spool, I see nothing but black. *grumbles*
Maybe I did it wrong, maybe the Adox doesn’t actually work. I wouldn’t give up, but the disappointment would take a day to pass.
My partner and our flatmate came to witness, the pressure mounted and I de-spooled (is that a word?) the negatives… and got all giddy to see images, greys and whites and recognisable objects.
Time to hang them up and let them dry. I was a photographer, a film photographer, and that rare breed that develops their own photos at home. Whoop!
I would do this again twice more before recording this episode. The second took longer, having messed up the spooling step again, creasing the edges of the film and making it almost impossible. The third time took me less than five minutes and went far too smoothly for comfort. I’m sure I’ll mess up again.
In the spirit of this new adventure my partner recycled my old PJs for me. A mask for safety out and about taking photos, and at home when pouring chemicals. Thanks babe, it’s MARVEL-ous!!
OK, so what about the comic?
The panels I took inspiration from in this week’s issue summarise what I believe to be pivotal moments in the two stories and in Spider-Man’s beginnings. The first where John Jonah Jameson Jr. becomes increasingly angry and distrustful toward Spider-Man and we all (hopefully) know this obsession leads to Peter Parker securing his job as a photographer at Jameson’s very own newspaper – The Daily Bugle.
The second part of the story about John Jonah Jameson Jr. Jr.(?!), I forgot his actual name. He’s an astronaut, well, I didn’t choose to focus on this as I preferred the second story and taking only seven photos to tell two whole comic stories is tricky. Besides, I don’t know of any space shuttles or astronauts nearby.
In that second story we meet with our first true Spider-verse villain. The Chameleon. In this story Spidey gets to confront and outwit someone unusual and acquire his first dangerous enemy. OK, so J.J.J.J. is the first true enemy, but not a true villain.
You’ll notice there are eight panels (on the blog) as two of these show Spider-Man using windows as entrances, when meeting with John Jameson. In fact when meeting the Fantastic Four he also uses a window. Who needs doors?!
Well, I hope you enjoy the photos and that I don’t spoil the comic’s story too much for anyone.
I will have to keep the update for the Electro 35 until a future time as I am still waiting on the crucial battery, this has to be the slowest delivery time ever, from that far off and distant city of Madrid. (FYI, I live near Barcelona). Next time I will share my attempts at scanning negatives.
Oh – I have started a secondary podcast, I must be mad, the Ultimate Photo-Man. Where I will focus purely on the comics both classic and new. Of course, Those being The Amazing Spider-Man & Spider-Woman and the newer Miles Morales: Spider-Man & Spider-Ghost (aka Spider-Gwen) comics too.
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.