Rocky Mountain College * Department of Computer Science * 406 208 3193 * turn on javascript to see my email

Fractal Photography 1

This is my first experiment with what I call 'fractal photography.' It's an idea that I thought of the first time I taught a class on generating fractals at Cornell College. The idea is that instead of a traditional half-tone image where the larger image is tiled with dots of varying sizes, we'll do a fractal half-toning where the larger image is tiled with smaller copies of the original image, and each copy has its brightness changed so that at the end you have a facsimile of the original.

Strictly speaking, I'm not sure this is still a fractal. Usually when you're talking about a fractal, it's a set of points, and everything in the set is either present or absent. But when you generate a fractal using the IFS algorithm, as the algorithm is operating you notice that sometimes you need to choose some of the tiles more often than others so that it stays equally black. In this case, what we're doing is intentionally choosing each of the pieces with a different likelihood, a likelihood that is proportional to the darkness of the region the tile is trying to represent. The result is exactly the half-toning that we're looking for.

You know we're constantly taking. We don't make most of the food we eat, we don't grow it, anyway. We wear clothes other people make, we speak a language other people developed, we use a mathematics other people evolved and spent their lives building. I mean we're constantly taking things. It's a wonderful ecstatic feeling to create something and put it into the pool of human experience and knowledge. -- Steve Jobs, Rolling Stone, November 1983.