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Author Topic: A Cure for Shaky Floors  (Read 1134 times)

Michael Erlewine

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A Cure for Shaky Floors
« on: July 05, 2020, 05:27:50 am »

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 dont 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 dont 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 dont 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.

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PeterAit

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2020, 08:17:00 am »

For what it's worth, I have been doing hand-held focus stacking for a while with great success. Needless to say, the images are not perfectly aligned. Now I am not doing nearly 200 layers, maybe a dozen, but I have found Photoshop's Auto Align Layers to do a very good job of lining up out-of-register images.

What stacking program do you like? I was experimenting with the trial version of Helicon and cannot get as good results as I do with PS.
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Michael Erlewine

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2020, 09:14:52 am »

For what it's worth, I have been doing hand-held focus stacking for a while with great success. Needless to say, the images are not perfectly aligned. Now I am not doing nearly 200 layers, maybe a dozen, but I have found Photoshop's Auto Align Layers to do a very good job of lining up out-of-register images.

What stacking program do you like? I was experimenting with the trial version of Helicon and cannot get as good results as I do with PS.

I have tried all the main stacking software. PS, Helicon, etc. and for my work, Zerene Stacker is spot-on, IMO. It is all I use anymore.

Here is one with Zerene Stacker.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 09:18:42 am by Michael Erlewine »
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: A Cure for Shaky Floors
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2020, 10:31:48 am »

Very impressive, Michael.
Necessity is truly the mother ...

I think your wobbly floor has really enhanced your creative thinking. How boring it might have been if you had a rock solid floor!

Thanks for sharing this.

-Eric
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