If ULTRAsomething was a television show, this month would mark the beginning of its seventh season.
Like a television show, ULTRAsomething has a core following of loyal fans, along with a more ephemeral group that arrives and departs with each new story arc. And like many modern television shows, ULTRAsomething seems to attract “binge viewers” — people who stumble upon the site, like what they see, get hooked, then peruse its extensive backlog of articles in a few marathon reading sessions.
Of course, if ULTRAsomething really was a television show, it would have been cancelled within 24 hours of its first post. Also, it would likely have had some sort of minor cultural impact by now. At the very least, it might have swayed public sentiment toward my belief that the best photography has little to do with “art” and everything to do with “poetry.” Plus, had ULTRAsomething really been a TV show, it would most definitely have earned me a buck or two by now — maybe even a Netflix deal. But no…
I know it seems unfathomable, but ULTRAsomething began with the intention of generating income. Originally, it was conceived as an obligatory “marketing tool” for my declining commercial photography business; then it morphed into a glorified “resume” for my skills as a writer; and finally it was retooled into something that could exist as a stand-alone, ad-supported entity. Alas, it failed to bring any new clients; nor did it attract any publications wishing to pay for my services (though several gladly offered me the “prestigious” opportunity to write free articles for them); and in regards to attracting site sponsorship, it appears advertisers value quantity of viewers over quality of content. Who knew?
Which all goes to suggest that, if ULTRAsomething really and truly was a television show, it would likely air on the local Public Broadcasting station. But even in this scenario, the site’s been totally negligent in both its obligation to sell tote bags, and to pause every couple of paragraphs so that I might mercilessly badger my paucity of viewers into donating (Note: my accountant has requested that I take this opportunity to remind you that this site does contain a rather prominent DONATE link at the top of every page).
But one thing ULTRAsomething has done properly — at least in its comparison to a television series — is to place its most problematic “characters” into life-threatening comas until they can be dealt with properly.
So perhaps this is a good time to check in on a couple of ULTRAsomething’s current crop of coma patients, and see whether or not they’re going to live or die…
ULTRAsomething introduced this character six months ago in an article entitled “Caffenolog 1: Enter the Dragon,” then quickly followed up with a second story, “Caffenolog 2: A Shot in the Dark.” Caffenolog — which dealt with my ongoing experiments with various Caffenol recipes and processing techniques — was expected to become a regular cast member, but early audience ratings proved abysmal. Site readership declined precipitously upon publication of each instalment, and the third entry — though written — was ultimately shelved and never published. Instead, Caffenolog was placed in a coma, and it’s my sad duty to inform you that the Caffenolog has passed away.
Surprisingly, even though it seemed Caffenolog had very few friends, a significant number of readers came to visit the comatose patient. In fact, readership of both Caffenol articles has remained steady ever since their initial publications. Most articles deliver the majority of their readers within the first several weeks, then gradually decline into obscurity over the next couple of months. But there has been no such decline in Caffenolog readers. So while it first appeared that both posts would vie for the title of “least read article in 2014,” they are now firmly in the middle of this years’ popularity pack. So even though Caffenolog is “dead,” don’t be surprised if it makes a return appearance — maybe as another character’s “self-conscience;” or maybe as a ghost that haunts the arrival of some new digital contraption; or perhaps we’ll learn that Caffenolog had an evil twin…
In “Littlefields,” published in October 2013, I mentioned that I had designed a small photography magazine, and that it was my intention to publish it as a “spin-off” of ULTRAsomething.
The magazine has been in a coma ever since. Brutally handsome, temperamental, and somewhat of a prima-donna, the ULTRAsomething spin-off magazine was originally meant to be published quarterly. Each issue would contain six previously unpublished images, which would address a single theme. Each issue of each magazine would be custom printed by me, and would be hand-assembled into a concertina format, with each panel a mere 3.5” square. This would allow it to be viewed as either a small palm-sized book, or as a 21” wide hexaptych suitable for framing or resting on the mantelpiece. The concertina, when not displayed, would slip into a signed, custom-printed and hand-made “folio” for placement in a (tiny) bookcase.
Alas, as you might expect, ULTRAsomething simply couldn’t afford to offer such a prime role to an actor of this stature. To do so would require significant time and money. In fact, the magazine would demand so much time and so many resources that it would basically preclude my ability to continue publishing the ULTRAsomething website.
Considering that the “viewership” for such a magazine would be significantly lower than what the ULTRAsomething website currently enjoys, the magazine has slipped back into its coma.
However, I’m still not ready to “pull the plug,” since there’s a possibility this magazine will one day exist — either as the “successor” to the ULTRAsomething blog or as an enticement for a vaguely conceived “patronage” program for ULTRAsomething readers.
So what’s in store for Season 7? Well, like most long-running programs, ULTRAsomething’s gotten a bit lazy and formulaic over the years. So I’m rather certain you can expect more of the same: a healthy dose of punditry articles to please our core audience; a smattering of articles about photographs (rather than about photography) that seem to please only me; and articles about gear, which is how we bring fresh new readers to the blog each and every year.
Of course, if ULTRAsomething truly was a television show, I’d be forced to lie and say this is going to be our biggest and best season yet. But as a website, there’s no real harm in informing you that this probably isn’t true…
©2014 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THESE PHOTOS:
Remember when I mentioned my belief that photography shouldn’t be considered an “art?” Well, hopefully, the photos accompanying this article bear witness to this belief.
“The Inevitable Cultural Consequence of ‘Game of Thrones’” and “A Prelude to Extinction” were both photographed with a Ricoh GR digital camera. “Easy Street” was shot with an Olympus Pen EE-2 on Kentmere 100 rated at ISO 320, and developed in Caffenol-C-L. Yes, that’s right… caffenol! It may be dead as far as the blog is concerned, but it’s alive and well in my darkroom (A.K.A. “kitchen”), where I continue to enjoy its push processing benefits now that I’ve switched to the “C-L” recipe, which adds a bit of Potassium Bromide to the formula (eliminating the fogging entirely).
If you find these photos enjoyable or the articles beneficial, please consider making a DONATION to this site’s continuing evolution. As you’ve likely realized, ULTRAsomething is not an aggregator site — serious time and effort go into developing the original content contained within these virtual walls.