Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Apophysis Now

I'm trying Apophysis again, for the first time in many years. I think the last time I used it, it was more of a small utility program meant to work with Ultra Fractal. Now there's a version with a lot more options, and some 3-D features that are fun to tinker with.

This time around, I've managed to make some flame fractals that seem almost like finished images to me, instead of just components to be used in some larger conglomeration. There's still something a little thin and insubstantial about them, but I can see some potential.

untitled [dewy moss]

It's weird and a little frustrating to be using a program I'm not very familiar with. I feel awkward, pushing around the triangles and adjusting parameters without having much idea of what they might affect. I'm used to much more control. But it's probably good for me to get knocked out of my element for a while.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ok, you're a cab

Some months ago on the Ultra Fractal mailing list, Kerry Mitchell posted a lovely example of phyllotaxis patterns around a minibrot. I've had the idea for this image rattling around my head ever since.

Phyllo Taxis

Or should that be "File o' Taxis"?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Way too shiny

I now have a set of two coloring formulas that can work together. There's the object-oriented version, that goes with UF5's plug-in system, and there's a regular self-contained version that can be used with older versions of Ultra Fractal. They're each a little different, but if I've got everything wired up correctly, you can give both of them the same basic shape parameters and they will make identical shapes. The practical benefit of this is that you can use both of them in the same image, and have the benefits of either set of options, and the layers will match up precisely.

I'm all nervous about it, because it seems to be working right, only I've thought that so many times before that I don't trust it. I keep expecting to stumble onto some unfortunate combination of parameters and discover that the whole thing is screwed up in a way that's un-fixable. But so far it all seems good.

Bah, and then sometimes I ask myself, "Why does the world need yet another coloring algorithm or orbit trap shape? It just makes the same old bright shiny pictures, and they look just like fractals. No one can tell that anything different is going on." Oh well.

untitled [pretty beads]

untitled [quatrefoil candies]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cue the Sousa march

Yeah, I have too much time on my hands these days. This is really not much of an effort; the lighting on the hardware is all wrong, but I need to stop tweaking it and go do something more productive.

A Political Fractal

By way of technical notes, I will merely say that it's all about the Orbit Traps.

Now with more bells & whistles

Ooh, I've got more of it working. Now I can try things like this:

untitled [angle to dots]

Or this:

untitled [antique buttons]

Ha ha ha ha wheeeeee!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pretzels and other loopy knots

I do this every summer. After a couple of weeks of post-school decompression, I drag out the couple of coloring algorithms I've been bashing at for the last several years, and get them a little closer to what I want. This year, the process is complicated (and also simplified) by the new object-oriented systems in UF5.

My biggest difficulty is that I am not in any sense a programmer; I've worked with fractal colorings enough to understand the logic in a sort of abstract way, and I know exactly what behaviors and effects I'd like to make possible, but there are huge categories of basic programming experience that I don't have, and so sometimes the answer to "Why isn't this doing what I think it should?" is "Because it doesn't work that way, you dope. This is where the semicolon goes!"

So I take apart bits of code that other people have written, and try to see what's going on inside them, and I also pester anyone around me who I even vaguely suspect of knowing how to write code, and I make slow progress. With a substantial amount of help from the Professor (my constant—though sometimes reluctant—ally), I was able to get a basic plug-in working in less than a day. Adding some of the more complicated bells and whistles turns out to be fiddly, and in the meantime I've also figured out some ways of improving the old-school non-object-oriented version. So now I have two different coloring methods that each do about seventy-five percent of what I want, but not the same seventy-five percent.

It's nice when there are brief glimmers of illumination.

Wire Lanterns

But mostly it just ties my brain in knots like little pretzels.

Pretzel Logic

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's giving me that look again

Gosh, it seems like it's been a long time since I messed with any of this stuff. Maybe now that I'm done with school, I'll have some time to get back into fractaling.

untitled [argus julia]

This one is just a bunch of stacked-up orbit traps on a Julia set. Kind of like an exercise in playing scales, or chord progessions. A warm-up.