Posts Tagged digital art

Fractals: photography or painting?

I was thinking other day… and suddenly this clearly came to my thoughts: fractals are more like photographs than paintings. I’ll try to explain why I think that way.

Fractal images, besides a lot of different interpretations and meanings, are nothing but graphical representations of a certain formula. Pretty much like that algebra class you had in high school. Although it can be artistic and all that (despite some refuse to call fractal art an art but this is another subject), it doesn’t even start (sometimes) with a blank canvas like a painting. You don’t create anything fractal-ish in the sense of inventing it. These graphical representations were all there already.

Algebra

Yes, a fractal is pretty much like that.

Take any fractal formula, say for example the Mandelbrot. It has a few parameters, but let reduce them to 2, X and Y for the sake of better understanding. The resulting image of the combination of the values of parameters X and Y gives you a certain image, the graphical representation of the combination of these parameters. This combination always existed. It was just waiting for someone to “create” the fractal with these values in a fractal generator software and publish it as a JPEG. Pretty much like the picture of a landscape, for example. The landscape was always there, waiting to have its photo taken.

What is a photograph if not a graphical representation of a landscape or a particular object in a specific moment in time, in a certain (constant, sometimes) environment? Take a picture of a mountain. Then the next day, the mountain will still be there, at the same place, in the same coordinates/parameters. If you go there and place your camera in the same position, with the same conditions (parameters) as when you did a day before, chances are that you will get the same or a very close image to the previous image. This is even more correct if you’re taking for example a picture of say a fruit in a studio. You can move your camera a few milimeters away from the original point of the first photo, and it’s about the same as using let’s say values of 0.000001 and 0.000002 for a certain parameter in a fractal. They are “pictures” of a fractal taken in a different condition, but they still keep the same basic subject, the fractal “structure” so to speak, just like the mountain or the car or the apple is the same.

And what about the post-processing? If you take a picture of a model in a studio with a red light today and tomorrow you use the same model, in the same position, but with a green light… it’s the same as using a different color algorithm in a fractal.

A painting is a bit different, because it’s your own interpretation of something, it’s not something that “is there” waiting to be unravelled. Each artist has a different technique and a way to “translate” things to a painting in his own way, some like to make the paintings entirely abstract, some like to make accurate reproductions making it look like a photograph, and although people can add their “personal touches” to fractals, these are more like a camera lens or some other dark room effect added to the image than a real “personal” touch. But this doesn’t mean that fractal artists aren’t creative. I hope I could make myself clear.

The trick I guess is to find the “right side of the mountain”, the correct time of the day to take your picture. The same landscape might look boring today and tomorrow with a few natural “tweaks” (a word constantly used by fractal artists) it can become a masterpiece. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck, sometimes you have some inner voice telling you to explore a new combination/spot, whatever. What is important is what you can do with that – the final work.

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Prints for sale?

I never thought of actually trying to sell any of my work, but as I’ve found this very nice printing service that does a very good job (digital printing, laminated and all that) and can print reasonably big images, I think I should try to make some prints and sell them, or at least advertise them for sale here a couple at a time. If one gets sold, great. If not, ok. I have no idea how much it could or should cost though. It’s not exactly cheap to print them, but it’s not something worth a thousand bucks. Yet.

Once I saw someone auctioning fractal images at Ebay (where else?…) at 1 cent each – yes, 1 cent, $0.01. They were all someone else’s images (unprotected, without any watermark) that he had collected from several sources and he was offering them at such low prices because he would deliver them by email. You had just to choose which images you liked, and he would send them to you at the amazing price of 1 cent each. Printing at your expenses, of course. I actually watched this auction for a week or so, but fortunately nobody was interested. Not only the images offered were awful but also it was a clear case of theft.

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Teeth

For Keef.

Teeth

Teeth

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The Bodybuilder

There is one image that is similar to this “person” done in UF a long time ago, but it’s more like a boxeur ready for a fight. This one is just a strong guy. Done with Mandelbulb 3D.

The Body builder

The Body builder

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A movie

My first attempt on making a fractal animation. Weird is that I have the Ultra Fractal animation edition since it was released but never ever tried to make a single animation with it. Had to start with Mandelbulb 3D, go figure.

It’s buggy, annoying, slow, but it’s nice. Unlike some softwares that build the movies themselves, this one just gives you the frames, then you must do the movie assembling and editing job elsewhere. Some of these free slideshow softwares or these that come with cameras or DVD burners like some ULead products (now owned by Corel?) can’t do it properly. I did some nice “movies” with images and transitions, but to render a movie with no intervals between frames, they don’t work. I had to try Picasa, and it did a very good job.

With some version of the software (the penultimate) I saw that I could render all the frames in JPG and PNG but for some reason the latest version of Mandelbulb 3D just let me render in BMP again. It wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the size of each frame – 900K.

One of the major problems I see in Mandelbulb 3D is that if you want to give up on some render/fractal or some animation or even restart from scratch, you just can’t. You must close the program and start all over again, the “reset locations and zoom” for example doesn’t clean the formula tabs, neither there’s a way to clean the animation and restart from scratch. I had a paused animation, quit it closing the animation window without saving (this usually makes you lose any work in any software…) and reopened Mandelbulb 3D and started to make a new fractal and a new animation, but for some reason the old paused animation was still there hanging in the animation window even though it wasn’t saved and I couldn’t even load a frame or use the navigator. I had to force the software to be closed using a Ctrl-Alt-Del, and it was finally cleared. It’s a very promising software, but very very buggy.

Here’s the animation. Still short and not the best, but it’s just a test. It was originally rendered in 640 x 480, 24 frames/second. Took me about 3 hours. I’ll move the files to a faster computer and try to add a few more things, it ends not where exactly I wanted it to be.

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