Monthly Archives: November 2013

First Snow (in a long time)!

First Snow, 2013

First Snow, 2013

Last winter, it snowed for about five minutes one day and the year before we also had very little. Christmas seems to sneak up and just appear one day when the weather isn’t snowy. This will be gone in a day or two, but at least it lasted long enough for me to take a few pictures. And to remind me that I need to do some Christmas shopping. First on the list is my truck. He could use some new rubber; driving in this stuff is kind of exciting with bald tires.

Several robins seem to have decided not to migrate this year and they all seem rather puzzled by all this white stuff:

"WTF?"

“WTF?”

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Mandel…bulb??

The other day, I went to look something up in Wikipedia, and noticed that their featured image was a thing called a Mandelbulb.

Ages ago, back at the tail end of the ’80s, an actuary I worked with, who was into “recreational math” (whatever that is), introduced me to the Mandelbrot set fractal. He was good at explaining things to the mathematically-challenged, and I have it by the tail, but not well enough to explain it to anybody else. What, for me, was more interesting than the math, was the ability to generate these gorgeous, colorful pictures.

The Mandelbrot Set

The Mandelbrot Set

There is infinite detail around the edges of the black area, and you can zoom in on an area and create some amazing images.

Mandelbrot Image

Mandelbrot Image


The above images were generated by Fractal Explorer 2.02

So this Mandelbulb thing caught my attention. It’s a 3D fractal.

The Mandelbulb 3D Fractal

The Mandelbulb 3D Fractal

I did a search and found a package called Mandelbulber which can be used to zoom in on areas of the bulb and generate some interesting, sometimes organic-looking images.

Mandelbulb Image

Mandelbulb Image

Mandelbulb Image

Mandelbulb Image


The above images were generated by Mandelbulber (Windows) 1.18.

Mandelbulber runs on several operating systems and I tried out both the Linux and Windows versions. The Windows version seems faster and produced better images, but that may be because my graphics card manufacturer has never bothered to write a driver for Linux.

Image rendering really warmed up my CPUs. I have an old PC with only two cores and they were both running at 100%. Oddly, there was hardly a blip on the GPU, so the process must be mathematically intense.

I’ve only been messing with this for half a day and not at all with the color possibilities. There are some fabulous images (and an article) by Daniel White, one of the guys that came up with the formula, at http://www.skytopia.com/project/fractal/mandelbulb.html. Arthur C. Clarke explains the Mandelbrot Set quite well (and in plain English) in his The Ghost from the Grand Banks and there’s a book by James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science, that also discusses the Mandelbrot Set. Unless you’re into “recreational math,” don’t bother with the Wikipedia articles. They are composed entirely of mind-numbing formulae.

This is so fun!

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Filed under Department of Arts & Tourism

Sometimes the coolest photos are really just accidents…

My daughter Claire went tearing out of the house recently with the camera and took 24 pictures of one rabbit. The first 23 were all variations on this:

Rabbit 23

Rabbit 23

…but the last one was the coolest:

Rabbit 24

Rabbit 24

…and she said, “Oh, that one was an accident – just delete it.”

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Apocalyptic Sunrise

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The sunrise yesterday was an amazing light show. Winter’s sunrises seem more colorful than any other season’s. Maybe it’s the clearer air or maybe it’s only that I have a better view as the solar declination decreases and the trees lose their leaves.

I went stumbling out in the dark in my bathrobe and slippers to take a couple of snaps, forgetting that I’d set the exposure compensation for a backlit shot earlier, and I ended up with a couple of badly underexposed sunrise photos. When I tried to lighten them up, the sky went kind of purple, but the clouds really were that color.

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A lot of the trees are bare now; our black walnut seemed to drop them all at once one windy day and there are only a few splashes of color on the ridge to the south. Winter is definitely on the way…

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DSC06719e

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