Friday, September 29, 2006

Retrospective (Part One)

It may seem trite to say that fractals have changed my life. I couldn't have imagined seven years ago, when I loaded up Fractint for the first time in years, what would arise from that act. It's been a strange journey for a guy who flunked math in high school, and who was later told that he had "no aptitude" for programming.

So, around Christmas of 1998 I bought my first printer and, looking for things to print, I loaded up Fractint (I'd known about Fractint since the early 90s: I have a dog-eared copy of the classic Fractal Creations, and even attempted a couple of formulas back then). I joined the Fractint mailing list and posted a few things there, with very little reaction. The talk on that list eventually led me to Ultra Fractal 2 and the Ultra Fractal mailing list.

I lurked there for awhile, and saw Ron Barnett post a couple of formulas based on things that I'd posted to the Fractint list. Now the formulas weren't anything new, because they were from The Beauty of Fractals, but I figured that I should be the one getting the credit. So I posted another couple of formulas from BOF, and I got a rather disparaging reply from Damien Jones. The point of that anecdote is that newbies can often be hurt by offhand comments from the "gurus", and that's something that we should all remember.

I guess my skin was reasonably thick, because eventually I started posting again. I'm not all that proud of my earliest images, but it's interesting that even though they weren't commented on at the time, some were later cited as favourites.

Perhaps my first real success came when I posted some swirly formulas, that again weren't really original , but were perhaps new to Ultra Fractal in that they ignored the need for a "bailout" condition. One of these swirly formulas: the "Popcorn" formula by Clifford Pickover ended up dominating my work for the next several months.

At about this time I had a good look over the Web site of Janet Parke, and I was thoroughly humbled. Janet's work changed the way I thought about fractals: from an interesting hobby to a long neglected urge for creative expression.


Blogger Philip Northover said...

Interesting route to fractals, different from mine in that my impetus was through a scanner, not a printer. Will have to do a write up someday.

10/01/2006 10:45 AM


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