Author Topic: A Cure for Shaky Floors  (Read 561 times)

Michael Erlewine

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A Cure for Shaky Floors
« on: July 04, 2020, 15:24:33 »
As they say, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” That is so true, and here is proof. I live in an old house and the upper floors, where my tiny studio is, are shaky. When the winds blow, the whole house shakes, but that is not the problem because it is rare. However, since I do a lot of focus stacking (sometimes with individual layers numbering several hundred), any excess movement makes for inexact alignment of the layers.

Because of the shaky floors, whatever tripod I use brings with it a small amount of shakiness, and I have to wait while it dies down. However, the main problem has to do with whatever I place my subject on (usually a plant or a flower). That is where the shaky floors most affect my work.

When I magnify focus and move in close, the movement from the instability of the floors makes the flower look like it is in a hurricane. What to do?

Yes, I can move my studio into the basement where there are cement floors underneath everything and that works fine. However, I don’t want to work in the basement and my tiny studio on the second floor has not only two six-foot Anderson windows facing south, but a large skylight as well. And in this small studio, the light is (or can be made to be) perfect. I also have a 40x40-ft studio about a block away, with 13-foot ceilings, but I seldom to never go there. Too far. LOL.

At first, I looked into massive (and expensive) tables designed to not-shake, but they would take up lots of space and be (practically speaking) not easy to move around. And I am moving around just about everything in my tiny studio all the time.

What I eventually figured out, and have been using successfully for many years now, is the fact the walls of the house themselves are stable; they don’t shake or, if they do, very little and only when the winter winds blow hard.

My small studio already is filled with tiny holes in the wood wall for hooks and eyes, where I string bungee cords, lines, and what not. My wife does not like me perforating everything, so there is that which I have to keep in mind.

So, I came up with a solution that works well, and that involves mounting adjustable shelves on the wall (and in doorways) rather than try to place subjects on a table or stand in the room, where the floors are too shaky. What follows are three methods, each with some notes and an illustration.

I know. This will sound crazy to some readers, but not to those who have a problem with very exact focus stacking.

MOUNTING A REMOVABLE SHELF IN A CLOSET DOORWAY

A1 – Here is a removable shelf in a doorway. The two rubberwood braces are easily removable.

A2 – Here is the view with the shelf removed.

A3 – Here is the back side of the two rubberwood braces so you can see how the slot into screws mounted in the wood doorway. They are sitting on a fiber-optics unit.

A4 – Here a close up of the screws mounted in the doorway, in this case just four drywall screws, mounted so the rubberwood braces just slip into them. The whole thing is removable in 2 seconds and all that remains are four screws.

WALL-MOUNTED DUAL BRACES.

Here is another approach, this time mounting dual tracks directly on the wall in-between two south-facing Anderson-style windows. On these tracks are two folding braces, upon which is a wooden plank where I place my subject to be photographed. It is very stable.

Other things to see are a couple of flexible microphone extensions that I use to position diffusers. In the back is a closet where I have different backgrounds that are well removed from the subject and which I also backlight. If I don’t want that closet in the back, you can see (across the doorway) is a black-velvet curtain and I have other curtains I use.

Above and hanging down is a Cello Led light that can be positioned, and a large diffuser. Above that are huge door-sized diffusers (two levels) and above that is a large skylight.

REMOVABLE SHELF MOUNTED IN DOORWAY

And last but most simple is a shelf mounted across a closet doorway on two pieces of wood for support. It comes out in a jiffy. The closet contains all kinds of lenses on the right, left, and behind are the various cloth backdrops at the back of the closet. This setup can be lighted with controlled light, even back-lit.

So, there you have it. I hesitate to post this because it is so simple, but if you suffer from old wooden floors that shake with every movement, it may be useful. For me, it has been a lifesaver.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com. Founder MacroStop.com, MichaelErlewine.com (articles), https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, SpiritGrooves.net, DharmaGrooves.com

Seapy

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2020, 21:42:27 »
Thanks for posting Michael, I am dithering with the same issues.  Your wall mounted shelf/bench is a lightweight version of what I have considered for quite some time. We have 'Zebadee' rails here in the UK which are channels with inward curled over edges which look very similar to your wall mounted rails but can accept all manner of freely available or custom brackets and attachments which are very rigid and infinitely adjustable.  I am becoming increasingly fond of these rails for rigid attachments.

I recently added some to the inside of the roof of my garage to allow the powerful LED work-lamps to be repositioned for best effect.

My main problem is the window of my proposed studio is South facing, meaning any subject will be strongly backlit unless I can shade the subject from direct light and reflect all available light with some sort of reflector.

You have stopped the subject movement, there still remains the issue of the camera, how have you isolated the camera from the floor?  Or do you tip-toe away and use a remote...

I am currently considering building an outdoor studio with a glass roof and walls in my back yard. That will improve the lighting and give me more freedom with camera angles.
Robert C. P.
South Cumbria, UK

Michael Erlewine

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2020, 22:17:43 »
Thanks for posting Michael, I am dithering with the same issues.  Your wall mounted shelf/bench is a lightweight version of what I have considered for quite some time. We have 'Zebadee' rails here in the UK which are channels with inward curled over edges which look very similar to your wall mounted rails but can accept all manner of freely available or custom brackets and attachments which are very rigid and infinitely adjustable.  I am becoming increasingly fond of these rails for rigid attachments.

I recently added some to the inside of the roof of my garage to allow the powerful LED work-lamps to be repositioned for best effect.

My main problem is the window of my proposed studio is South facing, meaning any subject will be strongly backlit unless I can shade the subject from direct light and reflect all available light with some sort of reflector.

You have stopped the subject movement, there still remains the issue of the camera, how have you isolated the camera from the floor?  Or do you tip-toe away and use a remote...

I am currently considering building an outdoor studio with a glass roof and walls in my back yard. That will improve the lighting and give me more freedom with camera angles.

I don't find that the tripod on the floor is a much of a problem, provided I don't move and wait between images for any shaking to die down. Send some images if you can for what you have come up with please.

If i built a separate studio i would have a cement floor poured or whatever science tells me is best.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com. Founder MacroStop.com, MichaelErlewine.com (articles), https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, SpiritGrooves.net, DharmaGrooves.com

ColinM

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2020, 21:45:34 »
Interesting  puzzle Michael.

I think part of the issue you're wrestling with has been looked into many times by people looking to avoid vibration/sound transmission when playing their vinyl on turntables.

Also, this may be a stupid question, but when looking for mounting points, did you consider using the ceiling?

Michael Erlewine

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2020, 01:53:54 »
Interesting  puzzle Michael.

I think part of the issue you're wrestling with has been looked into many times by people looking to avoid vibration/sound transmission when playing their vinyl on turntables.

Also, this may be a stupid question, but when looking for mounting points, did you consider using the ceiling?

Unfortunately, ceilings and floors, like a trampoline have more bounce to them. The rigid sidewalls i have found are much more stable.

They now have lazer-driven turntables for LPs.
 
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com. Founder MacroStop.com, MichaelErlewine.com (articles), https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, SpiritGrooves.net, DharmaGrooves.com

MEPER

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2020, 08:37:03 »
Probably a good old cellar made of concrete is a good place for vibration free experiments but what about the bathroom which often has a concrete floor?
I think the bathroom is the most stable room in my apartment. The balcony could probably also be used as it is also made of concrete.   

Michael Erlewine

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2020, 10:12:30 »
Probably a good old cellar made of concrete is a good place for vibration free experiments but what about the bathroom which often has a concrete floor?
I think the bathroom is the most stable room in my apartment. The balcony could probably also be used as it is also made of concrete.

There is all kinds of stability. My point here is that the verticals in a house, at least in my house, are far more stable than the horizontals.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com. Founder MacroStop.com, MichaelErlewine.com (articles), https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, SpiritGrooves.net, DharmaGrooves.com

PeterN

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2020, 08:38:45 »
Although I don't have vibration issue (The advantage of living where I live now is that everything is on the same level and the entire floor is made of concrete) I read your post with great interest. You have found a smart solution that triggered some thoughts on how I could improve my small studio.
Thank you.
Peter