Rubber Ducky

Warning: This post is a little nerdy and technical. Read at your own risk.

I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to obsess over things sometimes. Truth is, I love building stuff. As a kid I loved dismantling my toys to see how they worked. When I got older a soldering iron and glue gun were my favorite toys. You’d be amazed at what you can create with GI Joe’s and radio-controlled monster trucks. I suppose I get it from my dad, who was a manufacturing engineer for IBM & Lexmark. Thanks, dad!

Rubber ducky
Rubber ducky

So when Annie said she wanted to photograph the baby, but do it on the cheap, my eyes lit up like Christmas. I explained in a previous blog that I built a mini studio and purchased a new camera. Well, I have been tinkering with the lighting, and discovered that I probably didn’t have enough lumens. I was only getting about 300 watts on each rig for a total of 600 watts. Any photographer out there probably knows that’s not near enough if you aren’t using a flash kit. So I futzed with the set-up and bought a few more bulbs and increased it to 2x 400 watts. It seems to be enough. For the duck I shot ISO80 at 1/160 at f/3.5. I did bring the photo in Photoshop and reset the levels, but did not sharpen the image, or change the color balance. I also shot it at 10pm at night with only the studio lights.

Problem is, a rubber ducky is not a human. I did a test shot with Annie and the lighting angles were horrible. So there is still work to be done! First the lighting was too harsh and too low. Want to make Annie look menacing? Light her from below. I now have to find a way to extend the lights higher, and angle them without fear of tipping over. Me thinks I’m going to have to employ assistants (I’m talking about you: John and Sara) to handle this delicate work. As far as diffusing the lights, bed sheets work great. In fact, everything I just told you about you can learn about at: It’s a very cool site for the amateur photographer.

2x3 foamcore, powerstrip, 4 daylight rated 26w cfl bulbs with plug-in adapters, mic stand
2x3 foamcore, powerstrip, 4 daylight rated 26w cfl bulbs with plug-in adapters, mic stand

I know a few of you that read the blog are actually real photographers and know WAY more than I do. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Here is my current rig, minus the bed sheet diffusers.

Baby Registry

Here we are, the moment everyone was waiting for: No, not the birth. I’m talking about buying stuff!

We decided to register at both Babies”R”Us and Target. We figured that while not everyone has a ‘BRU’ (Babies”R”Us), most cities have a Target nearby.

However, for some reason neither registry is easy to find online. It even took us a few tries to log in to our own at ‘BRU’ because they screwed up the registration when we signed up at the store. Not only did they misspell our username, but our password was incorrectly input as well. That was a fun one to figure out. Eventually we worked it out much like Nicholas Cage did in National Treasure. All we needed was a little lemon juice, the Declaration of Independence, and hair extensions. But I digress…

So without further ado:

Registry #: 45010993
Registrant: Andrea Akers
Co-Registrant: Eric Akers
I couldn’t for the life of me find a direct link to our registry. I say the best way is to use the “Search By” > registry #> 45010993 when signing in at this link:

Registry #: 014399701024681
Parents: Andrea Masellis-Akers & Eric Akers
Direct link, Yay!:

There you have it. If after all that, you still can’t find either, then I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you just weren’t cut out for the internet. But somehow you got here, so maybe there is hope for you yet!

Snarkiness aside, we want to thank everyone that’s visited this blog so far, and I hope we’ve made it entertaining. By no means are we telling you to buy us a baby present. We just know that some of you were waiting to know where to shop. However nothing can top the beautiful gift we will be unwrapping in 2 months and 16 days, but of course, you can try!

The nursery

The nursery is finally coming together. We are still looking for a rocking chair and a shelf to put on the wall, but we thought it was far enough along to post on the blog. Please take a look at the gallery below to see what we have done so far. You can click on each individual image to view a larger version.

29 weeks in

Annie at 29 weeks
Annie at 29 weeks

We enter 29 weeks in a few days. Just one week to go before you reach the critical 30 week survival stage. Once we hit that the baby can come at any time and be fairly safe. It’s hard to believe the baby has grown that much already! Of course, we don’t anticipate it coming early, or anything of that sort, but it’s nice to have one more level of reassurance.

The nursery is taking shape, but currently it’s a mess. We finally decided on the color boxes to get and instead of returning the ones we didn’t like, we just put them in the closet. Of course, that required cleaning out the closet… So now the closets are tidy, but the room is a mess again. We did finally get the accent curtain, crib skirt, etc, that we were waiting for. We are quite pleased, and hope to have the room back to normal soon. I promise pictures soon! And speaking of pictures, I must thank my wife, and wonderful future son or daughter, because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to purchase the new Canon SX20. All it took was for Annie to get on a photographer’s site that specialized in baby portraits. She asked me, “can we take photos like that?” I responded with, “not with the camera we have”. VoilĂ ! New camera the next day. Score!

Now I have the task of creating a mini-photography studio in my office. You’d be amazed at the amount of Do-It-Yourself instructions out there. I made 2 continuous lighting rigs that produces 600 watts of daylight light for less than $30! The bulbs are cool fluorescent too, so they won’t get super hot like traditional studio lights… Which is probably best since the subject will be our baby. I’ll likely post a few test subjects over the next few days as I tweak my setup.

Last but certainly not least… Here is my lovely wife and our half-pint dog Dexter. I think we can now say for certain we are having a baby. Dexter does not seem amused.

Horton and all 3.

All 3 - Click image to see a larger version of the painting
All 3 - Click image to see a larger version of the painting

Done! Wow, what a satisfying week. I finish all 3 paintings, AND get our taxes done.

OK… So the paintings aren’t 100% done. I still need to put a finishing varnish on them, but I can’t do that for another 48 hours. However, it IS nice to be working in acrylic again. For those that don’t know, years ago I abandoned working in acrylic and switched to oil-based paint. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in oil, but it requires patience; a virtue I’m often in short supply of. But really, there is no substitute for the buttery texture and ability to work the painting even after a few days have gone by. But sometimes the wait to dry is mind-numbing. Not so in acrylic. The fast-drying properties allowed me to complete the paintings in record time!

Click image to see a larger version of the painting
Click image to see a larger version of the painting

We can’t wait to hang them. Slowly but surely the room is coming together. It’s been a pain to match the colors (green, orange, blue) with stuff available. If any of you know of any stores that sell containers that are 12 inch square and fit our color scheme, please write us. We are having trouble matching the colors perfectly. We initially found a few at Target, but since then I think they have discontinued them. We ended up buying a few, but then we went back they were all gone. Neither the Turlock nor the Modesto stores had them… Bummer.

I anticipate the next post will be pics from the nursery. After I varnish the paintings I’ll hang them, and then let the world see how far we’ve come. I’m not sure how exciting the reveal will be. It really is nothing special, and it IS a work in progress. We ordered accent curtains, etc, from Babies-R-Us, but it said 4-5 weeks for delivery, so I doubt we’ll ever get them. So don’t expect a magnificent reveal. That will, of course, be the birth of the baby.

Green Eggs and Ham

Click image to see a larger version of the painting
Click image to see a larger version of the painting

I got to admit, I think I’m getting the hang of this. 2 down, and one to go. I might have to make another run to Michael’s though; I’m running out of white paint, and Horton is one big elephant!

I know I’ve said this before, but Annie and I are really getting excited now. Today she got her sugar tested, but won’t know anything until the next Doc’s visit. She hasn’t had any milkshakes in a few days, so cross your fingers!

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat In The Hat
Click image to see a larger version of the painting

Painting number one is done! Well… I still have to do a few touch ups, and then put a coat of protective varnish on it, but you get the point. It may not be Starry Night (which I’ve also reproduced and have hanging), but I think it turned out pretty good. I just hope a feline in a top hat doesn’t scare the hell out of our future children. We shall see…

3rd Trimester

Annie at 26 weeks.
Annie at 26 weeks.

So here we are at week 26. Things are moving along as the days are counting down. Another doctor’s visit went by, and again, no problems. Annie’s next appointment is a big one just because they’ll do a few more tests; i.e. sugar levels, etc… We don’t expect any big surprises. However, Annie’s cravings have shifted from savory to sweet. I can’t tell you how many times I asked what she wanted for dinner, and she responded with, “Milkshake”. Sigh… So you never know.

For those asking yourself, “Hey, shouldn’t they have a baby registry by now?”, the answer is yes, but it’s not ready yet. We intend to have one at Target and Babies-R-Us, but currently we are still deciding what we want to put on each. Who knew there were so many choices for babies? I mean, how much of a difference can a bottle made by this brand or that brand be? One thing is for sure, Annie and I are the most down-to-earth people you’ll meet, and we don’t succumb to peer pressure. So the first person that says, “I can’t believe you aren’t going to do this or that for the baby!” will be greeted with a punch in the face. Well, not really… but maybe. Do you really want to chance it?

In other news, the crib is put together and the mattress bought. I’d post a picture, but the room is still kind of a mess. Annie has Spring Break next week, so we hope by next week’s end the room will be looking more inviting for the little one. I’ve also finally started on the paintings. I hope to have them finished by the end of next week as well.

So that’s the update. Sorry for the distance between posts. I hope to post more soon.