30 July 2008

Layering Is Bad?

I'm trying to figure out why layering is a bad thing. Perhaps someone can explain why with some examples. Whenever I look for examples, I conclude that layering is a good thing.

Take the image in this post.

Is it a better image that this one?

Or perhaps better than this one?

Or maybe this one?

How about this one?

Could you tell, without the description, that the last one used the image importing feature of UF 5?

I don't think I've made images as bad as the first one since I first started using Fractint. I certainly never made them public. The colors chosen, however easily it may have been to choose them, are hideous.

I don't even like all of the other examples, but I like them far better than the first image. Perhaps I just don't appreciate the "art" in the first one. Or, I've just been corrupted by UF?

I see art in all of the images except the first one. I see plenty of fractal properties in all the images.

But, I certainly would appreciate someone explaining to me what it is that I'm not seeing in the first image.

Can anyone help me?

23 July 2008


I've always like air shows. I've been going to them ever since I was a kid. One of my favorite photographs is one of the Blue Angels that each pilot autographed. It is even personally addressed to me. Well, not me exactly, but to my grandfather. I just happen to have the same name.

Where I live, I get to see the Thunderbirds perform every year. I was going through pictures from the last couple of years to put a slide show together. Here are a few of them. They aren't as good as I would like because I didn't have a long lens. Perhaps next year.

15 July 2008


  • Having OT imply that you are a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer or ignorant of history by creating a trap shape (that has been present for over six years in multiple formulas from multiple authors) from a quartic plane curve resembling the shape of a swastika:

Ultra Fractal - Helping turn artistically inept critics into fools for nearly 10 years.

14 July 2008

Apple's Customer Service

I think Apple's customer service deserves kudos.

I bought my wife an Ipod nearly 18 months ago. For a number of reasons, chiefly her using mine, we never even took it out of the box until a few weeks ago. It was defective out of the box. It was also clearly outside the one year warranty. I was hoping that I would be able to get it repaired for not too much money.

So, I called Apple's customer support. After answering lots of automated questions, I finally got to talk to a support person. After more questions and explaining my situation, they transferred me to a support manager. To my very pleasant surprise, they agreed to treat the repair as warranty replacement. I spoke to them on a Friday, had a prepaid box to return the Ipod on Monday, and received the replacement Ipod the next Friday.

Very cool, IMO.

I Can't...It's Too Hard

Too hard to use, or too many formula options to choose from that you don't know what to do?

Personally, I believe the latter is really the challenge with Ultra Fractal 5. When I first tried UF 2, 10 years ago, it was so simple to use compared to Fractint that I've never gone back to Fractint. Subsequent versions of UF have only made it easier to use. The UI is the best of any fractal program that I've tried.

Where things get complex, is with all of the formula choices (also true with Fractint) and the vast number of parameters that can be changed with some of the formulas. Some of them have 100s of parameters. It is easier to make choices for manipulating a particular formula when the options are few. Flexibility can lead to complexity.

Powerful programs can be intimidating and take time to master. Take Photoshop for example. It is considered the premier image editing program by many. Is it ridiculed because it is too hard to use? Is it ridiculed because it has too many features and is only for a certain specialized group of users? No, at least not that I've seen. There is Photoshop Elements which does feature a somewhat more limited feature set and packages some things in a manner that are easier for the average person to use.

Well, this is really what UF 5 has done. All of the older formulas, both simple and complex can still be used. I'd say this is roughly analogous to Photoshop Elements. The new object-oriented formula language features that allow classes to be selected by users is more analogous to Photoshop.

But, you know what is really ironic? You can use simple fractal formulas and simple coloring formulas to create your images. You don't have to use the complex formula with 100s of parameters. You can use a single layer, or multiple layers. What UF doesn't do for you is let you easily crank out images like some other programs. But, it does have a nifty explore tool to let you easily see what varying different formula parameters will do to your image.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist or engineer to use UF and the new class-based formulas. You do have to be willing to experiment and learn and be persistent. But, isn't that what you have always had to do with UF? Isn't that what you've always had to do with any program?

I think some people just can't decide what they want. On the one hand, complaints are levied that UF is too complex and has too many options and has too much of a learning curve. They prefer programs that generate the images for you with little interaction. But, it is the myriad options that give artists the control they need to remove the fingerprint of the "machine". I'd say that less options and less control give the "machine" more of a lasting fingerprint on an image. Of course, post-processing can easily destroy the fingerprint of the "machine".

But, what is the fingerprint of the "machine" anyway? Is it a particular look? Is it the fractal structures in an image? Is it the banding or flatness you have with limited colors? Is it when layering is obvious? How do you detect the "machine" being apparent from one program or image to the next?

Judging from the number of users and the constant popularity of UF over the last 10 years, it seems clear to me that most don't share this view. Toby's formulas, with their plethora of options, are very popular. So, users seem to like the choices, flexibility, and complexity. I'll admit that some people just don't like this, or have never seemed to grasp UF to learn how to make it work for them. The same thing is true with Apophysis, XenoDream, PhotoShop, etc.

Given this criticism of UF, which is perhaps valid for a minority of artists, wouldn't you think then that courses to learn how to use UF to get more out of it and learn to use it more effectively would be praised? One would think so, but the same folks complaining about how "hard" UF is to use ridicule the existence of such courses. Seems like the modus operandi is to complain about UF regardless of consistency or sensibility.

Let's look at a couple of questions posed,

But does the complexity of Ultra Fractal just simply reflect the inherent complexity of Fractal Art? Perhaps Fractal Art really is Rocket Science after all? and maybe good fractal art is like a golden castle high up on a mountain and if you can't do the math, you can't walk the path? (ha, ha, funny eh?)
I don't know if fractal art is complex or not. Images have certainly evolved, and improved, to my eye over the years with the capabilities offered to artists by UF and other programs. Fractint images stick out like a sore thumb these days to me. I find most of the images done by the "fractalbookers" more attractive than most Fractint images. The sheer quantity of images almost dictates that many or even most are going to appear mundane over time. You just don't crank out great images day after day. But, you can crank out okay images day after day when you learn your tools sufficiently. I think this is a result of the capabilities programs offer artists.

I don't think fractal art is rocket science at all. The sheer number of people doing forms of fractal art renders that implication false, IMO.

By no means do you need to understand the math to "walk the path". But, it is true that UF does not lend itself easily to the click, click, click, look at my image work flow. You do have to spend the time to learn your tools. If you don't have that level of patience and/or persistence, then there are likely better tools for you. You can generate random batches of hundreds or thousands of images using Apophysis. But if you want unique, attractive art from them, you are going to have to spend time manipulating the image.
Hmmn... these are big questions. I'll just say that your answer to how much technical (i.e. math and programming) skill is necessary to make fractal art will probably predict whether you're going to like using Ultra Fractal 5 or whether you're going to find it a ball and chain that slows you down and requires you to do excessive, detailed configuration when you'd rather be experimenting and exploring fractals.
Well, no, I don't really think they are big questions. I'm not even sure they are relevant questions. And, I don't think the answer depends on your programming skills. You don't have to have any programming skills to use the class features of UF5. You do if you want to create new classes or extend existing classes. But, that has always been the case to a degree if you want to experiment with formulas. You can even learn to do that if you have no programming experience. Granted, it will be harder with classes.

Contrary to the implication above, I contend that the class enhancements to UF 5 allow you to experiment and explore to a degree never before possible. This has been true since UF 2 with it's advance formula programming language. Why be limited to a simple language to explore fractals when a more advanced language gives you more ability to experiment? That has never made sense to me.

The reference pages are intended primarily for those who want to write or extend classes. The information there will be expanded over time to include tutorials and other information that is intended for the non-programming user.

I would agree that UF 5 is the "fractal programmer's fractal program". I think it has been since version 2. I don't see anything at wrong with that. I'd also contend, given the user base and popularity of UF, that it is also the fractal artist's fractal program. The end all, no. But, clearly the most capable and advanced tool in the toolbox. Use it or any other tool you wish.

But, what really strikes me as rather odd is all the complaints and criticisms and ridicule of a program that is not even used by the people raising the complaints. Classes to learn how to use UF more effectively are ridiculed. By their own admission, the vocal critics of UF have never learned how to use the program effectively. There's no real problem in that. But, it does help to know what you are talking about when you decide to offer critiques about features of a new release of the program.

10 July 2008

Stick A Fork in Fractal Art

Well, if you share the views of OT, then fractal art is all but dead. It's dead and buried due to the innovative features of Ultra Fractal 5. I think they are already writing the epitaph for fractal art, "Here lies Fractal Art. Killed by Image Importing."

Of course I'm being sarcastic, and I know OT likes to be sarcastic in their writings. But, they are serious too. I just don't agree with them on much of anything. I also don't take the entire subject quite so seriously.

I believe UF5 has brought fractal art to a critical crossroads. UF5 will almost certainly kick-start a paradigm shift as to how fractal art is seen and will raise serious questions about what fractal art can and cannot be.
If one is to be truly honest, this has been true in varying degrees ever since UF 2 was released 10 years ago. Its features were revolutionary compared to the king at that time, Fractint, which can even produce non-fractal images. True color gradients, layering, advanced formula language, etc. all began the paradigm shift that has continued since then.

The big concern now seems to be over the image importing feature. Why? I don't really know. It's just a natural extension of capabilities. Sprite and BringItIn have allowed limited use of this feature for several years.

Why are the questions serious? What are the questions? Who cares about the questions and/or the answers?
The introduction of imported photographs dramatically redraws the boundaries and shifts UF's focus from fractal production to graphics processing.
No, not really. Think in terms of the class of fractal formulas considered orbit traps. These traps show distinctive shapes that follow the fractal formula. Images that are imported essentially like an orbit trap. They can be bold or subtle depending upon how the particular artist uses them. Why is this a problem? Sure, someone can use UF to simply process the imported image. Some people have already done this. That's their choice. It may not be great art, but who cares?

But, since this statement comes from one who takes fractal images and processes them with numerous filters in graphics programs, why is this even a concern?
Photos, on the other hand, are "dead" imagery; they are static. They have no parameters beyond that of a bitmap and are not the products of some other process. Photos, in short, are unlike fractal images.
Photos by themselves are static. Photos imported into UF are not necessarily so. It all depends upon how they are used. There have already been classes written that allow an image to be mapped on an orbit trap. This isn't static. Photos are not fractal images, this much is true. However, photos can be a very much a part of a fractal image. And, what about the case of a fractal image being imported into fractal?

Is this image entirely fractal, or does it use the image import feature of UF? Is it a fractal image or not?

The lines aren't quite so clear, are they?
And here's one limitation from a technical standpoint. Incorporating photos into UF may be a real challenge when it comes to making a high res file for printing. The bitmaps won't be scalable like the fractal elements will be because they're not vectorized. Gargantuan image sizes, like those preferred by the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest, might make the import feature of little value unless users think ahead and import only photos at a resolution that will not disintegrate when printed at the size of a plasma television.
Well, we're back to the snide remarks about the BMFAC. This really seems to be what is behind all the angst. I won't go into all that nonsense again except to point out the simple fact that contest organizers can set up their rules in any way they chose. They can choose to favor particular programs (not that this contest did), they can require large images, they can require images look "fractal". It's their choice. There is room for more that one contest or calendar. It just takes someone or some group to make the effort to do it.

It is true that if you want to make a very large print using imported images, then you have to be sure that your source image is large enough to print the way you want it to. The advantage to this feature being built-in is that you can make large prints if you want to. Sprite and BringItIn don't allow you to do his. I think this is a very great plus.
Practically speaking, once a photo (or Bryce creation, or Terragen landscape, or Poser figure, etc.) is imported into UF5, the work can no longer be said to be "Made with UF." It is only "Processed in UF" -- hence my suggestion that UF has now become a paint program. At best, the introduction of a photo into UF5 results in a work that is more accurately described as "mixed-media." At worst, bringing in a photo means that all fractal work in UF is immediately done. From that point on, you are using UF to strictly manipulate that imported photo.
Well, this is a rather cynical opinion. I think it is overly simplistic at best, and outright wrong at worst. One commenter pointed out to OT that his use of images were the most fractal of images that he has done in a long time. Really, what is the difference between an orbit trap with a clearly defined shape and texture and an orbit trap with an image as part of the shape? Nothing much really.

I'm wondering why the concerns above are even mentioned at all. If you take a fractal image and post-process it to death with filters, why do you think you can call your work "fractal" when you have eliminated any visible fractal properties?
And I'd argue that my work, even when processed "beyond recognition," is probably more "fractal" than any piece made using imported photographs.
Well, I think this is quite simply, a rather silly statement. If the artist wants to consider his work more fractal, fine. I don't care. If someone wants to use images in their fractal work, fine. I don't care. But, if you think an image that "looks" fractal, even if an image is used as part of it, is less fractal than an image post-processed to remove all visible traces of "fractalness", then you are rather arrogant.
Childress feels anything goes -- including adding non-fractal photos -- if you're using the inherently more-fractal-by-default Ultra Fractal. I think Childress is mistaken (filters use algorithms, too) and is merely privileging his chosen program. I strenuously object to any and all such default privileging of Ultra Fractal. Though the program may be popular, it is not the end-all to everything that encompasses fractal art. Personally, I find the software leaves too much of its own stamp on what it produces. The "machine" is overly visible for my tastes.
Simply put, OT is lying and misrepresenting what I said in their comment above. Such dishonesty is why I think they are such a joke. I think many others have the same opinion of them.

Let me be clear, so the OT authors can quit lying about what I've said. I don't care what program you use to create your art. It does not matter to me in the least. Likewise, if you have a problem because I prefer to use UF, then the problem is yours. I am not "privileging" UF. How can I? By using it? By supporting it? What I meant was, and perhaps I could have said it better, was that some people, such as the "fractalbookers", may consider any given image more "fractal" because UF was used. There is no "end-all" program. But, UF is far-and-away the best, most versatile, program for artists to use. If you don't like it, can't figure it out, whatever, then use what works for you.

If you don't like UF, don't use it. If you like the block wave filter, use it. If you like importing images, use that feature. If you don't like to include images, don't do it. If you like to process your images with filter after filter, then do it. Don't complain because someone doesn't like that method, or comments that the image isn't "fractal" because they can't see any evidence of fractal in it. But, what is the point in complaining because a particular program is so popular? You don't have to use it, and you don't have to like the images produced using it.

If you think UF is changing or event destroying fractal art, you are welcome to hold that opinion. It is true that UF is changing fractal art. It has been ever since it has been around. You can like it or not. Someday, some other program will come along and change the status quo.

Why does it matter?

Does what other people do to create their art affect you? Harm or hinder you in anyway? Does what you do affect other people? Harm or hinder them in anyway? Does someone importing an image in ways you don't like hurt your art? Does copious post-processing using filters affect anyone else? If you think the answer is yes to any of those questions is yes, then I'd really like to know why.

Any yes, anything goes. Why should I care what you do or what tools you use to create your art? Why should I limit your choices? Why should you try to limit mine by imposing your definitions and criteria on me? That's rather arrogant, don't you think? Call your art "fractal" if you want, even if you can't visibly tell. Just don't be upset when an exhibition or calendar wants images displaying fractal qualities and yours is excluded because it doesn't. I like a particular image or I don't. I'm not going to automatically like a particular image because it was created with UF, or automatically dislike a particular image because it was done with some other program.

When one reads the end of the OT post, the actual problem appears. It's not so much UF that is the problem, it's that OT perceives that a select group of people control the fractal world and favor UF to the exclusion of all other programs. This group exclusively runs all of the fractal related contests and calendars. All meaning the BMFAC and Fractal Universe Calendar. The implication is that there are no other venues for fractal art, nor can there be because of this group.

All the flaws, inaccuracies, and fallacies of the OT complaints have already been pointed out here and in comments to the OT posts (at least until OT was made to look bad by the reasoned arguments and banned the commenters). Readers should note that what OT really wants is to control how such contests or exhibitions are run. You are unethical, unprofessional, favoring UF, etc. unless you follow their rules. Never mind the simple fact that those putting up the money for such events are entitled to set up the rules they want, select the people they want to judge submissions, select the image size criteria, etc. We'll also ignore the fact that XenoDream, Apophysis, and probably other programs were used to create images that were selected.

OT could be constructive and create, or help others create, other venues (contests, calendars, etc.) to promote their view of what a "level playing field" would look like for fractal art. Someone could even put on a contest that requires that image be made without using UF, if that is their choice. But, it is always easier to sit back and complain.

05 July 2008

Layers? Who Needs Layers?

Well, I think the short answer to that question is basically anyone who creates images with any given fractal program. The days of aesthetically pleasing single layer images, with very rare exceptions, disappeared a long time ago. I very rarely see an image that is a single layer that I find attractive.

Of course, opinions may vary, and they obviously do given some of the criticism offered by OT about the layering capabilities of Ultra Fractal. Take this comment as an example,

My criticism of Ultra Fractal as a fractal art tool has always centered around that issue -- that users tended to get creative by layering fractals rather than by exploring new formulas or experimenting with new rendering techniques.
While the negatively is clearly directed at UF in this comment, it is misplaced. The criticism should be placed on the users of UF that use layers in a way the author doesn't like. It is obvious that people can use the capabilities of any particular program in any way they choose. Personally, I care little for marginal fractal images that are processed with image processing filters. But, that's my preference, and if any particular person likes images created that way, knock your socks off.

So, why direct the critical comments at a program, rather than users? I don't know, but the answer to that might prove insightful.
But what does this mean for the label, "Made with Ultra Fractal"? Well, if done tastefully and intelligently like many of the examples that Mark Townsend has displayed using Sprite as a plugin for the previous version, Ultra Fractal 4, then little has changed and one can just assume that whatever was made exclusively in Ultra Fractal is exclusively "fractal".
Well, you really haven't been able to "assume" that any given images is exclusively "fractal" since UF has been around. Its advanced formula language has allowed creative formula writers the ability to create formulas that are not exclusively "fractal" for a long time.

The bigger question, IMO, is why this label matters so much?

I suppose, for some, this gives more credibility to some images over others. I suppose if there is a particular "contest" or calendar that is labeled as "fractal" that it might exclude some images over others.

Why is this a problem?

If a contest or exhibition wants images that display fractal qualities, or appear to be mostly fractal, why should anyone have an issue with that? If you make images that are post-processed so much that the original fractal properties are obscured, why should you be upset if your images are excluded? You shouldn't be. You made the choice for your image, so accept that it might not fit into a category that you want it to.
But I've noticed that it's pretty rare that anyone uses layering with any intelligence or taste in Ultra Fractal. There are exceptions and I've reviewed such exceptional fractal art here before.
Well, from the images I look at, this author needs to broaden his viewing. True, there have been a couple of instances reviewed at OT, but there are a great many more examples out there than this comment implies. Even many of the "fractal pancake" images look better to me than filter processed images. But, that is my taste, yours might vary.

But, this brings up an interesting question. If layering is good, and can be put to good use and effect, why does OT continue to ridicule classes offered that teach users how to more effectively use the layering features of UF? Wouldn't one think that learning how to more effectively use this capability would be a positive thing? I posit there is something else behind the continual ridiculing of the classes and people that take them. What exactly, I don't know.

Laying can be put to good use. Filters can be put to good use. Both can be overused and abused. I suppose it is really personal taste that says which is which.

02 July 2008

Don't Get Stuck On Stupid

I suppose an alternate title that is just as appropriate is "Stupid Is As Stupid Does". However, which ever title you prefer, they both fit just as well with after reading the latest OT post. (Note: the latest at the time I started this, there have been a couple of subsequent posts)

After a two month period of long hours at work out of the office, I finally have a more normal amount of free time to devote to useless diversions, such as reading in depth the OT posts. The latest one didn't disappoint in sinking to new depths of idiocy and lack of professionalism. I was planning on writing about UF 5, so their latest post gives the the opportunity to do that and address their stupidity.

First I want to address the comment in praise of Ultra Fractal by me that they chose to feature in their post.

“This program is the most versatile and easiest to use of just about any program I have used, not just fractal programs.”
Yup. That is exactly what I said. However, what they didn't say because they couldn't have known it, is that I said that in an email to UF's creator, Frederik Slijkerman, nearly 10 years ago after trying version 2. Compared to Fractint, which I was using at the time, UF 2 was so much easier to use it wasn't even a fair comparison. The user interface was unequaled at the time, and hasn't been since. The formula language was more advanced than Fractint's. The additions since then have only extended UF's capabilities beyond any other program. What has made UF harder to use than many other programs has been the increasing complexities of the formulas people have written for UF. Some formulas have 100's of parameters. Fractint allows six. Lots of parameters means lots of choices and can be confusing.

Over the past 10 years, UF has had three more version releases culminating with version 5 this past week. It left Fractint in the bit bucket of history years ago. I've tried many programs over the years, and always return to UF because I actually find it the most versatile and easiest to use of any fractal program I've tried. Others have had similar experiences. But, others have not. That isn't important. What is important is that each artist use whatever tools allows them to produce the art they like to produce.

They continued to critique my comment with,
Oh really? No learning curve at all, huh? Easier to use than either MS Paint or Elf Bowling, is it? Then why does the main UF page suggest users could perhaps benefit from preparatory coursework by highlighting a salient link to UF classes taught at the Mississippi School of Anti-Fractal Art™?
To any reasonable reader, one can see they are being intentionally obtuse. As I mentioned above, formulas have increased dramatically in their capabilities and difficulty in mastering over the last 10 years. That is what is primarily the learning curve with UF. UF's basic functions are the easiest to learn of any fractal program I've ever tried. Making art is the difficult part, as it is with any program. The classes offered for UF are simply from one person's point of view for getting more out of UF to improve your art. That person just happens to be one of the premier fractal artists today in the eyes of many. But, if you don't want to learn, or don't think you need to learn from a very good artist, or would rather learn on your own, no biggie. But, why the need to ridicule? I think those ridiculing are rather insecure in their own art and methods.

UF has a large, and active, user community. I suspect the user community for fractal mangling with filters is rather small. Perhaps the critics of UF feel left out somehow. Who knows? Criticizing the existence of classes to learn is rather silly.

However, returning to the focus of the OT post, what is apparently important to them is to trash UF. I don't know what their motivation is. It may rooted in jealousy that UF is so popular, and costs money. Or, perhaps that so many people use it and that many who use it get recognized in exhibitions or calendars or other venues that exclude the OT authors.

While they decided to praise Paul for his creativity in being able to approximately reproduce several images done by a famous Norwegian artist in UF, they now accuse Paul of using the new image import feature of UF 5 to simply import an image of the original and claim he created it using other features of UF. I don't know if Paul did this or not, as I have not asked him directly. Apparently OT didn't either. I have seen the parameters for a couple of his other images that he duplicated from the Norwegian artist, and they were NOT done with the image import feature. Personally, I doubt that Paul did the image this way. But, it is clear that OT would rather make accusations without facts that try to find out the facts. Is that professional or ethical?

Note: Since I wrote the above, I see that Paul posted the parameters for his version of the image as a comment to the post proving that he did not use the new image import feature of UF 5. The ethical and professional thing now is for OT to devote a post to correcting their error and apologizing to Paul. Will they? (Additional Note: I am encouraged to see that OT acknowledge the error and apologized, sort of.)
Now compare my results to DeCelle's image-of-the-week above. Aside from the Fresco effect, can you really tell an appreciable difference between the images -- other than some minor gradations? Would you say I was engaged in making "fractal art"? No? What if I reminded you that Photoshop filters run using algorithms? You still say no? Then, you tell me, why is DeCelle's image fractal art, and my quickie exercises above are not?
Did Paul ever claim his duplication of the image was fractal art? Not that I ever saw, and I doubt he would call it fractal art. All he did was see if he could approximate the image using UF. It no doubt could have been done more easily in other non-fractal programs, but Paul challenged himself to do it in UF. I saw it as nothing more than an exercise in the power of the program. This is just another ad hominem attack from OT that they are becoming famous for. Paul's image isn't any more fractal art than the filter processed images. He never claimed it to be, unless posting it in a fractal gallery is similar to making that claim. It's not, but I'm sure that is a valid enough reason for OT to justify themselves for making the charge.

Are fractal images, post-processed beyond recognition of any fractal qualities, fractal art? I think this question might shed some light on the angst exhibited by OT. Because someone uses UF, by default people may consider their images fractal based whether or not actual fractal formulas are used by the artist. A fractal image destroyed of any fractal qualities by churning through filters may not have the say defaults applied to it, especially when it originates in some other program than UF.

Perhaps the time has come to drop the labels on your art and just consider it art and see if it can stand on its own merits. Or, perhaps just use the more generic and universal label of digital art. It appears that there are just too many people with their own definition or criteria for "fractal" art to try to please. It's probably best to quit trying and just worry about your own art and its merits and judge other's art on its artistic merits than some label.

Additionally, there are accusations that other UF artists are using the image import feature in their images. Of course, there is no proof or evidence offered in these cases either. Not very professional from the self-appointed arbiters of professionalism of the fractal art world, eh?

But, what is really hypocritical about the OT post is their criticism of the new image import feature of UF 5. It's especially hypocritical coming from artists who take fractal images and mangle them beyond recognition with various filters. Haven't they repeated railed against those claiming that one program or another, or one image or another, produces more "pure" fractal images or is a more "pure" fractal image? Haven't they complained when some speak out against post-processing or criticize those who post-process their images in some ways?

Obviously, some will use the image import feature in kitschish ways. But, I've seen block wave filters used in kitschish ways too. So what? Some will rise above this and create new and innovative styles and techniques. It's simple enough to ignore what you don't like. If you think that the kitschish, or the mundane, or the common, affects your art, then you'd better learn to get over it.

Personally, I've never given a rat's rosy little behind about how any particular image is created or what program is used or what filters are used to mangle the image. I can appreciate the skill required of the artist to use certain programs. But, I care about the resulting image. I like it or I don't. Isn't that really the bottom line?

Then, why the long diatribe against UF 5?
Ultra Fractal has now become just another paint program -- or, more precisely, a rather expensive Photoshop filter.
Obviously, this comment is one of the more stupid comments made by OT. But, it is telling. For ones who like to mangle their images with filters, wouldn't UF 5 be more suited to their work flow? Obviously it would, but it is their hatred of the "
Fractalbooking masses" that prevents them from ever being able to admit, publicly anyway, that UF could actually be useful to them. Or, perhaps it is the virtually infinite artistic possibilities that intimidate them? One OT author essentially admitted that in a previous OT post.

Ultra Fractal 5 now gives fractal artists a program that has no peer. With it's object-oriented additions to its programming language, formula writers can build upon the work of others in ways never before possible and create combinations that are not possible any other way. The top of the class always is the target of pot-shots by others. That's the way of the world. It doesn't change the facts, and it is sad that people think they need to tear down the successful, but that's life. I'm sure Frederik doesn't really care, and UF users don't really care. I don't really care other than finding it a fun diversion to point out the flaws and hypocrisy of these particular critics.

Why OT doesn't like the Photoshop-like features of UF doesn't really make sense. Photographers use layering all the time. Other digital artists use layering all the time. I suspect even the OT authors use or have used layering. Wait, is it because you can simulate filter effects in UF similar to image editing programs? Could be. But, isn't that what the OT authors like to do with their images? Well then, why criticize a program for allowing you to do natively what other programs require you to do externally?

Oh, wait. It's the ability to create non-fractal images with a program that has fractal in its name. But, aren't the images mangled beyond recognition with filters really non-fractal images? Yup. But, they can't mangle the images and say they were done in UF. Is that what pulls their chain? Perhaps. Sure, some people like to proudly proclaim their images were don't entirely in UF. So what? Personally, I think that is a bit silly, but it doesn't really bother me.
Face the facts. UF5 is certainly not exclusively a fractal program, and its use will no longer guarantee that the images made in it will be routinely accepted as fractal art and not some other sort of mixed media.
Well, since UF version 3 introduced formula language features that allowed creative programmers the ability to produce flame images, or implement ray tracing algorithms, or use the pixel formula to do line art, or use external programs like Sprite or BringItIn to use images, or use Glyph to use fonts, etc. UF has ceased to be "exclusively" a fractal program. But, this really isn't the point, is it?

The point is that "argument" if you can call it that, allows the OT whiners more reasons to complain about the BMFAC and Fractal Universe calendar. That's really at the heart of the issue.
At least there's one good offshoot from Ultra Fractal being downgraded to the status of just another image manipulation filter. No more will I have to listen to any self-righteous proclamations from UF users about how legit their fractal art is -- and what a cheat and a hack I am because I prefer post-processing fractals using various graphic programs.
Well, at least there is honesty in this statement. The OT author has had his feelings hurt because he has received criticism because he likes to mangle his fractal images with filters. Why does this bother him? Is it because his images start out as fractals, but can't be recognized as fractals after the mangling? Personally, I don't care how anyone creates their images. I've said it before and will continue to say it. Use whatever tools you want to produce what you want. If what people say about your work flow bothers you, then the problem is with you, not them.

But, OT is fooling themselves if they think UF is "downgraded" in any way. In fact, quite the opposite is occurring. The bar is being raised even higher for competitors to catch up. Hopefully, someone will try, and perhaps succeed. However, in the 10 years UF have been on the scene, no one has manged to equal it, let alone surpass it. I know that fact gets under the skin of some, but that's okay. The most innovative program that has come along since UF is XenoDream. They are totally different programs with totally different types of images that can be created. However, it is a testament to the power and versatility of UF when you realize that some XenoDream images can be duplicated in UF due to the creative efforts of formula writers. Yup, UF is surely downgraded.

You make your art legitimate or not, not what others say about it. If someone wants to proudly proclaim they made their image entirely in UF, why should that bother you any more than someone proudly proclaiming they destroyed their fractal with filters? People from either side getting upset at the other should probably concentrate more on their art production than what people say about how they made their art.

It's just as silly to claim your work is more "pure" fractal because it was done exclusively in any particular program. Because you used UF to create your image doesn't mean it is automatically more "fractal" than an image created by some other program. But, if you mangle your images beyond the ability to recognize anything fractal in it, you shouldn't be upset about someone claiming their image has more fractal aspects to it.

More later...