The smaller you look, the larger you see.
There are two modes I apply when working with fractals or graphic software in general. One is to keep a close eye on what does what, and when I find a good combination of effects, write down the sequence like a script: scripting mode. In fact, in the graphics programs the GIMP, and probably Photoshop too, there are scripting capabilities that create new, composite filters from the combination of individual ones.
The other mode is to idly add effects and just click on things and see what happens: improvise mode. This tends to produce things that are usually unreproducible because you can’t quite remember what you did and what you undid and what you did after the undid. Doing this for a while is a great way to collect experience that will later allow you to build “scripts”. I often move into improvise mode after a lot of careful scripting goes nowhere.
And then I often go into scripting mode after a lot of senseless and semi-random clicking produces a nice effect and I really wish I could do it again. Sometimes you just get lost, and like the location of some buried treasure you may have found during a storm, you’re unable to find your way back. I think I said once, that some filters make mountains and some filters make dust. Hasn’t everyone who works in the digital medium made an image and in the process of perfecting it, lost the whole thing, just like the proverbial fish that got away?
Maybe I should stop using a graphics program that only has one level of undo.