Category Archives: camera equipment

Almost a total disastrous shoot…

I wanted to do some beauty shots to add to my portfolio so I called upon 2 of my favorite people. Model: Caitie and MUA: Ara. They’ve worked together a few times already so it should have been easy breezy. Their part of it was. Ara even helped with puffing Caitie’s hair. So while they were doing hair and make-up, I moved the strobes into position on the backdrop and plugged in the beauty dish. Basic, simple lighting. The beauty dish acted like a disco light flashing spastically and the strobes weren’t firing right. “F” me. Jene chimed in that I should have tested them last night. And he is right. But when I got there last night, he had just gotten up from a nap and was in a lot of pain (back issues). So I really didn’t want to bother him. We had limited time so while Jene tried to figure out what was going on with the remote triggers and beauty dish, I set the strobes to modeling  and used my off camera flash.

First image was blown out, a few camera adjustments and the second one was dark. I thought the flash didn’t work, so Ara checked as I clicked the shutter and yes the flash had recycled and worked. That kept happening throughout the shoot. I even stopped making adjustments to my shutter speed to see if that was the issue. But it didn’t matter, some came out over exposed, some underexposed and some just right.

I know in the past I sometimes get overly zealous and click the shutter before the flash had time to recycle. The batteries were strong, I checked. Anyway, I had a beautiful and patient model, a very talented MUA, thai curry veggies over rice for lunch and a few laughs.




IMG_5717 ©


Next time I’ll be more prepared and check everything. Jene got everything working right by the  we finished.  Boy am I glad that wasn’t the first time we worked together, I would have been even more embarrassed.



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Implied nude lighting tests

I  haven’t done much shooting lately, the last one was a gift, my husband was shooting a model that he wanted to paint silver.   I assisted in helping her apply it to her body.  It was an interesting shoot and she seemed to be relaxed enough with her body to do her first nude session.  Both Jene and I do have the ability to make people feel comfortable.  First it starts with respecting the models comfort level and even her nervousness.   While he set up a second scenario, I clicked off a few images.


The mood is set by lighting and it becomes your most prized possession in getting that wow factor.  Lighting for implied or nude is something I like because its all about the light and shadows that play upon the body.   But I’m not a lighting expert, have limited equipment and no test model so I am challenged.

Jene offered to be my lighting test model on Sunday but we found ourselves pruning our willow tree, then I made a late dinner and both were so ready to call it a night.

What to do and how to light her.  Hmmmmmm.  As a pre-test, I set up the lights, set the camera on timer and jump into various positions.  Made adjustments and notes after I was sort of satisfied with where the shadows fell across my skin.  I wish I had a fully posable blow up doll or mannequin as my test dummy.  It would make my life a little easier (I think).

I do keep in mind what my Emmy award winning lighting designer / photographer husband, Jene Youtt always says:  KISS (keep it simple sweetheart/stupid).  So with just a couple of hot lights, 1 soft box and a speedlight I have come up with few different scenarios.  For the most part I am shooting with the speedlight bouncing off the ceiling or wall for a softer look.  I can always resort to my old standard of utilizing a single light source and bounce card which is pretty much tried and true but experimenting is a learning experience and I love stepping out of my comfort zone.

I shot a woman last week.  She’s a sweet gal, and I photographed her 2 years ago,  she is not a professional model just someone who wants some  professional photography for her personal use.  No money exchanged hands…  What do I get out of all my efforts, hopefully something to add to my portfolio.  She likes my artsy concepts and was willing to do nudes and implied nudes.   But like most of my paying clients, I do not post nudes of them unless I have their written approval or their faces are hidden.  I respect their privacy and concerns.

I started the images that night and finished them a few days later.  Whittling down is just part of the process, then comes the little post work.  I’m not adept in photoshop so most of what you see is what I shot.  I do all generalized overall moves, a color balance, clean up stray hair that wisps across her face, convert some to B&W, simple stuff, nothing that requires mask layers.  Jene has tried to show me but when I watch him move his fingers across the keyboard I pretty much start to glaze over.  What I need is for him to go step by step with me at the helm.  Unfortunately I still can’t remember how to do any of it.  And believe me I tried today.  I even used the magnetic wand to isolate a masked layer of the whites of her eyes that needed to be a little whiter.  Oh well – the outcome – couldn’t do it.  I need hours of one on one instruction and then hours upon hours of practice but that never seems to happen.  Oh well.

I emailed her a few of my favs and she really liked them, her boyfriend loved them so it’s a win/win/win.

One of my favorites is this one.  Something she can share with family/ friends and hang a print on her wall.


 One hot light with diffusion and 1 softbox on her right (KISS)


Just 2 hot lights, one bounced off wall on right


We had fun and she found her comfort zone.   Can’t wait to shoot with her again.  I will definitely be adding some to my website portfolio.

Have a good day.

Mary Durante Youtt


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Silver lining…

This week, I assisted my husband, photographer, Jene Youtt with a photoshoot.  He was shooting a woman who came with a concept of her own… “the gift”.  She sent sketches of her coming out of a box, enveloped in bubble wrap.  She brought a 12″ roll of the stuff and unless she wanted to be wrapped like a mummy, we couldn’t figure out how to turn her concept into reality.  It just wasn’t going to give her the effect she was looking for (she didn’t bring a box).  Jene of course had an idea of his own.  The model got it and donned some silver body paint instead and we covered her is a sheet of silver mylar.  The effect Jene was going for was that the silver was wearing off and her flesh was emerging.

Jene used 2 strobes to light her and asked if I wanted to shoot along but I have this thing about not getting in his way so I opted to wait until he was done.  I didn’t want to trigger the strobes and him have to wait  mili-seconds for them to re-fire and risk him missing “the” shot.

The silver lining part comes into play.  My turn… I click the shutter and look at the image – hmmmmm that’s odd – looks like only one strobe worked.  Check the plug, try again.  same thing.  Only the gridded softbox flashed.  I thought about using a bounce card which would have helped but Jene wanted to shoot her in the shower with the silver running down her face and neck and I didn’t time to look for one.  Oh well,  I’ll just work with that.  One light, a few quick shots to fill the time while Jene set up in the bathroom.

Here are a few of my favorites…







Things don’t always go as planned… but it doesn’t mean that it has to turn out bad… just different.  The shoot wasn’t the concept that the model came with, it wasn’t what Jene had planned either and certainly having a strobe fail on me wasn’t what I hoped but being creative sometimes means working with what is available to you at the moment and having a little fun along the way.

She is building her portfolio, liked working with us, wants to shoot with us again.  So all’s well that ends well.



Filed under camera equipment, fine art nudes, photography

Started out good and turned out better…

After spending a long day at Hasselblad / Broncolor “Shoot NYC” , educational forum with live fashion photo sessions at The Terminal Building my mind was exhausted.  Listening to various photographers and industry experts talk about their craft/field/programs etc, had my brain swirling.  Not that all the information I was receiving was new to me; more like sensory bombardment of facts and tips.  The highlight was chatting with advertising/fashion photographer, Jodi Jones  and shooting fashion under more ideal conditions than I normally shoot under.  The digital Hasse was tethered to two 24″ monitors for instant feedback and manipulation with the Phocus software (Hasse’s version of lightroom).  The  Broncolor lighting system was top notch and of course a bevy of assistants on hand:  Stefano, moving lights around, a computer tech pushing sliders on the computers, who also helped with lighting, a hair and make-up gal, and a stylist must be really nice to have on set.  (Big sigh) … to hold a high end camera in one’s hand lifts the spirit and makes you feel like you are at the top of your game.

This was shot with my iPhone not the Hasselblad.

I do wish that I could have some of the shots I took with the Hasselblad but oh well!  It was fun while it lasted.  Of course at  first I was a little intimated by holding a $30,000+ camera/lens in my hands, which was quickly pushed aside by I don’t want to put it down.  But is was time for a wardrobe change and I relinquished the Hasse to Jodi.

The images below are from a test fashion shoot that I did with model Cheonsae Kim in June…  Wish I had a hair and MUA, stylist and some fashion, other than the long black skirt hanging in the closet (which was 5 sizes too big for her).

Seminar after seminar…  all things photographic –  , Lindsay Adler, another fashion photographer, talked about the lighting and the set-ups she uses at her studio, and now I want a UV adapter for (black light make-up effect – when will I ever really need it in my realm as a fine art photographer – I don’t know but boy would it be fun to experiment with black light make-up).  a Pico Spot Projector, 2 Broncolor light bars, a P50 Narrow angle reflector (throw light)  and a satellite.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.  I want that… and this… and that too.  OMG I want everything.

Now what I’ll probably do is finally buy (two) 3 or 4′ fluorescent lights on stands to give me the continuous elongated light that the more expensive light bars give (although it would be nice to have all tungsten lighting and not mix the color temperatures).  We’ll see.  It’s not like I shoot a lot of fashion but I do find it fun. And lately I’ve been shooting more in Jene’s studio in NY than in NJ so I get to use his strobes, beauty dish and softboxes.  I do have a speedlight for my Canon EOS 50D and I just ordered the MarkII, 5D that Jene has.  No, it’s not the latest but it was on sale ($400 was a good savings) and I want/needed to upgrade to a full frame sensor.  Afterall, it’s almost Christmas and I’ve been a very good girl.  Not that better equipment makes you a better photographer…

I’m a darn good photographer, at least I think so and so does JPG.  I can’t remember how long ago it was that I entered JPG’s “Breasts, We Need to Support Them” international juried competition but one of my images was awarded 1st place.  Whoo-hoo.  I had just closed my email when Jene went on his and said honey… your image was awarded first place.  I remained calm, cool and collected on the outside while doing the “happy dance” internally.

I went to bed with feelings of grandeur, maybe utter joy with a smattering of pride of acknowledgment would be more like it.  But it felt good.

(For those who don’t know that I finally dropped my ex’s name and took on my husband’s last name, sorry for any confusion…  Mary Durante Wehrhahn and Mary Durante Youtt are one in the same person, I assure you.)

Sunday, November 4th, my work will be exhibiting along with my husband’s (Jene Youtt) at The Monroe Center for the Arts,  720 Monroe Street, Hoboken,  NJ  from noon until 6pm.  Stop by… get a jump on some Holiday Shopping.   Give the gift of art…  It says a lot about you and the person you are giving it to.

Happy Day!

Mary   (

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Underwater camera (gurgle, gurgle)

Jene and I will be heading to Hawaii soon and I was toying with the idea of buying AquaBags for our Canon cameras (D50 5DMarkII &/or the G12).  I thought it would be a good idea, especially since it took months back and forth to the repair shop to get Jene’s 5D in working order after it’s river dip.  I read some reviews which weren’t all that positive so I decided to pick up the submergible FujiFilm FinePix XP20 point and shoot.  It looks simple enough to use and I am looking forward to video as we snorkel and to capture some stills.  I wish my soaking tub was deeper/bigger so I could do an underwater test to see how easy it is to switch from stills to video while swimming.   Of course I don’t expect the quality of images that National Geographic photographers capture but I’m hoping to get some neat shots.  Without realizing it I bought it in silver, even after I mentioned to Jene how barracudas are attracted to shining objects.  Hmmmmmmm, maybe I should spray it matt black.  This might be another one of those “Mary’s bright ideas gone awry”.

I will be blogging about our photographic adventures in Hawaii on my other blogsite, click on the link:  “Flights of Fancy” if you care to follow along.  this is our first trip to Hawaii and other than the usual volcanoes, lava tubes, whale watching, crater rim excursions, we also plan to spend time relaxing on the many beaches; something Jene & I rarely get to do.

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Back in the saddle again… figure study shoot

It seems like forever since I shot along side Jene in his studio.  It actually might be the first time since we’ve been married or perhaps the second one.  Not that that makes a difference.  I think I got some really good images of James, both clothed and nude.  I’m sure Jene got some great ones too.  (In the beginning of my figure study photography, I would shoot with a NY based group, but they seemed opposed to shooting men nude, that bothered me a little and kind of made me wonder what they were really there for – just to ogle some young, nude females – grant it the bodies were lovely but so is a man’s, and figure study should be of both figures- oh well, to each his own, I guess).

I really need a better camera and am waiting for the Sony NEX-7 to arrive.  I put my name on the notification list at B&H.  It’s not that I want to stray from Canon but this one seems worth the wait.  It’s size makes it a great street camera and Zeiss makes a lens for it that I also want to get.

Back to the shoot.  For me it’s always a learning experience,  I look at how Jene shoots with strobes, something I rarely do since I don’t own any.  Jene was all hooked up with firing 3 strobes, plus a beauty dish for some head shots, while I relied on 2 hot lights with barn doors on dimmers and an overhead modeling light.  If I put the hot lights on full power, it really messed up the lighting for Jene and since this was his session and he was testing his 5D, MarkII for white balance after a few months back and forth at the repair shop, I didn’t want to effect his lighting.  James was looking to build his portfolio and was a trooper throughout all the lighting changes that Jene was making.  (The camera repairs were because of a plunge that Jene took into the Little Pigeon River during our venture in the Smoky Mountains National Park – frying his electronics). Hopefully all is back to normal with camera/lens.

Here are a few of my pics from that shoot – I need to color balance them but I’ll do that to the final cut after James gets a chance to select the images he would like.





James was easy to work with and was comfortable shooting with the two of us.  Playing to both our cameras.  Sometimes that can throw a person off, not knowing where to look – when, but he was at ease and I hope he likes what he gets.  I would like to shoot him with his partner, something that came to mind after he walked out the door.  I’ll ask him.

I love the human form, the way light and shadows fall upon it bringing out the contours of the landscape.  Those subtle nuances that are uniquely our own.

Heard back from James – he LOVES the images.  Yay!  He’s so cute and asked me what is my favorite cake is, Cakes Done Simple  a business he has started.

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Starting the New Year off in the direction of art

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays wrapped up, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  Art wise –

Thursday 1/6  6 -8pm.  Emmanuel Freimin Gallery will showcase Gisueppe Mastromatteo’s “Indepensense” at its  reopening of it’s new, larger Chelsea space.

Emmanuel Fremin Gallery

547 West 27th Suite,  Suite 508

With our summer project of restoring our 1970 Cougar Xr7 taking up most of our time and then our 4 week trip cross country, Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s behind us, we are coming out of our shells and promoting art, ours as well as others.

I need to revamp my website and add some new images,  MaryDuranteYoutt and hubby, Jene Youtt is looking to work on a couple of art projects as well.  One of his projects will require a little assistance from me and I am looking forward to the research part of it.  It will get us out and about in the city.  Of course in between, we interject life: family, friends, a house, a pied-à-terre and travel.

Seeking things to do that bring you in out of the cold is a good thing.  We did manage to get over to BAM for the Pina Bausch / Wim Wenders 3-D Pina film last week, which we both thought was incredible.  Jene’s work in theater lighting over the years helped develop his love of dance and of dancers.  It is so nice not to have to coerce a man into going to performances, as he is linked to many dance company sites and gets info on upcoming works.  His photography allows him to create that elusive moment in time and motion.  His propensity to share with me enabled me to create a few lovely images while on his set, and even when I wasn’t shooting, I was learning from him.  I learned how to steam wrinkles out of flowing silks and delicate crepes and saw how he set the mood with lighting.

There’s is that wonderful ethereal quality that captures the feel of the moment – one that is not stagnant which I love.  Jene’s dance images do the same for me although there is a different feel and quality to our images even when we shoot side by side.  The other difference was that he was shooting with strobes and I was using the modeling lights as my only source.    Sometimes I would catch his flash.  Mine were shot with a Canon Rebel and a 50mm lens.

His images below were shot with Canon 20D and a zoom lens.

Creating the images is half the fun, exhibiting your work is the other half.  Having admirers /collectors purchase them is an extra perk.


Filed under art, camera equipment, dance performances, fine art nudes, Jene Youtt, NY Metro art galleries, photography