We recently attended the Halifax Mini Maker Faire 2015, and took freelance journalist Gareth Halfacree along for the ride. This series of Focus On features is designed to offer a sampling of who you can expect to see at a Maker Faire event, why they're there and what it is that drives them.
While Leeds Hackspace has a joint stand in Eureka's dark theatre, member Angus Taggart has taken a position in the pretend Post Office to make better use of the light. Light is important for Angus' project, because it's a novel form of photography. "I've brought what I have been calling orthogonal videography," he explains, shifting a camera attached to an angle-poise base around as a monitor displays a constantly-scrolling time-based image feed. "It's a way to make panoramas from video. Live stitching, or video stitching.
"At the moment, this is a live system," Angus explains of his creation, "so it's a USB webcam running into this computer, which is a laptop, and that is running OpenCV. That then stitches the live video into what you see on the monitor over here," he adds, gesturing to a display which shows a recognisable live view in a thin strip at the right-hand side, but which then has historical slices scrolling off to the left. It's a disconcerting image, especially when Angus uses the angle-poise base to 'scan' your face into a somewhat unflattering smear, but there's a certain beauty to it as well - and an interesting blend of the time-capture of video and still-capture of photography into a single whole.
"I've been making orthogonal panoramas for a little while, and they've continued to amaze me," Angus enthuses, leaning on an old railway station sign he's repurposed to show messages lit by low-power LEDs rather than the expensive high-power halogen lights it was designed to house. "I personally quite enjoy the results, I think it's another form of photography."
As if to punctuate his explanation, Angus grabs a compact camera from the stand and switches it into the video mode which can capture the live data he can later run through the OpenCV computer vision system to turn into a panoramic still image. Dashing out of the Post Office door, he turns the corner to the oomlout stand and captures it for later processing - one of a number of panoramic images he intends to create from the event.
Asked why he has given up his weekend to share his passion for unusual photography and what attracts him to maker events like the Halifax Mini Maker Faire, Angus echoes sentiments heard from many other attendees at the event. "Partly what they offer to people. I've been part of a Hackspace and have been doing maker things for a while now, and part of it is the community around a Maker Faire - getting to know people in the local area, and part of it is sharing with people what we like to do. This is a current project that I'm working on, so I thought I'd bring it down and share."
Angus Taggart's website can be found at electrictea.co.uk.