Category Archives: lights

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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Shooting my brains out (photographically speaking)

Sometimes weeks go by without me picking up my camera, then other times it seems like the view finder is attached to my eye.

Wednesday, I clicked off a number of shots for a casting call and Thursday I did a 2 hour session with model Chiyo.  A Korean model, born in Japan and going to school in New York.  Chiyo and others will strut their stuff for Art Day Celebration music, art and fashion fundraiser on June 20th at 1OAK, NYC.  Friday, I pounded the streets of the city.

Next step – the arduous task of editing through two 4GB cards.  Chained to my monitor, thinking of how nice it would be to have an assistant for this stage of the game.  I really need a hair and MUA, a stylist would be nice too, maybe someone to hold a reflector too.  But I’m a poor fine art photographer without the means to pay a staff so I do what I can.

Chiyo came in street attire without any wardrobe changes.  Luckily, I had a long black skirt (about 6 sizes too big for her) and scarfs so that’s what we went with.  She is looking for work, to be signed with a modeling agency.   Chiyo brought her portfolio which contained some beautiful images by a Japanese photographer with hair and MUA on hand.  Stunning images!  She has some experience but needs to work on having more than 1 look –  Demure isn’t enough of an appeal for selling a product and that’s a quality that agencies look for.  I want to work with her again, to see if I  can bring out more expression in her face/eyes.  Part of it, is getting her to be comfortable playing a part.  Feeling her own sensuality. anger, joy – whatever.  Expressing through her eyes, a viewer needs to see what’s going on inside.   We had a little fun and I got a number of images that I really like.  She is lovely and I hope I can get her to come out of her shell.

She certainly has the height to be a runway model, all she needs is a little more attitude and swagger.

Fashion is not what I normally shoot but I’ve been hanging out with a few models these past 2 weeks and I think I’m getting caught up in this hectic realm of beauty.  Maybe I’ve been watching one too many episodes of Tyra Banks “Top Model”, for what ever reason, I’m getting a kick out of it.  It’s a whole ‘nother world and there certainly are more then enough great fashion photographers in NY.  Not that they would shake in their boots with my attempts, but without the production teams they have, I think I did pretty well for myself as a newbie.  This was my first attempt using strobes, other than my off camera speed light.  After clicking off a couple of lighting test shots, I moved the beauty dish around and changed a few settings.  I shot with an overhead modeling light, a soft box to the right of the model, on the left used a grid and then the beauty dish in front of and to the left of Chiyo,  Later I turned off the grid and turned on my Canon speed light which was positioned about 3 feet off the ground – just played around.  This is when I love the cost effectiveness and instant viewing of shooting digitally.

I made a video/slide clip from the session, using one true media’s templets.  I like the result, although I wish I had more control of the number and length of the “set” effects.  I can shorten the music but can not make it run longer.  Oh well,  I will work on mastering my limited abilities.

I hope this link works…  Chiyo

Friday, while Jene was working up at the Beacon Theater on The Tonys, I roamed the streets of NY.  Trying to catch the store window mannequins with the perfect reflections that make them appear as though they are outside.  Disappointed that Macy’s windows were blacked out as they were working on something special that promised to thrill us all.

The men are stepping out for the day…  the big apple captures my imagination where ever I roam.   😉  Enjoy your day!

Mary Durante Youtt

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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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ArtExpo and Earth Hour this weekend

Jene Youtt and I will be heading to ArtExpo NY this weekend with over 400 artists from 20 countries exhibiting their work.  It’s a short walk from our NY pied a terre to Pier 94.  ArtExpo starts on Thursday March 24 running through Sunday.  There’s an array of educational seminars and Jane Seymoour will be on hand for Free Arts NYC on Saturday from 9 am to noon.  She will be painting a Warhol inspired mural with the kids from Free Arts NYC.  10% of the door sales will benifit Free Arts NYC.  It’s always a good feeling to give back.

© unknown press photo

Also on Saturday, you can participate in Earth Hour 2011 at 8:30 pm.  My friend, Pat and I participated last year in Auckland, NZ

when the hotel we were staying at invited all the guests to turn off their room lights and join them at the bar for a complimentary cocktail.

Earth Hour 2010

Something to do and the more participants the better…  After all, it’s the only earth we have and the way things are going, we’d better start doing something quick to save energy and our decrease our dependance on fossil fuels and nuclear sources.   Spending an hour or more in candle light can spark a little romance in your life too.  😉

Whatever your plans are, enjoy every moment…

Mary Durante Wehrhahn Youtt

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Black / white and color photography

B&W photography is dear to my heart, so this is right up my alley.  Shots Magazine is a subscription supported quarterly printed magazine.  Read by photographers and galleries here and abroad and so worth the $25 annual fee.   There are calls for artists for the juried competitions and features the works as well as interviews with the winners.   It’s been around since 1986, and as a photographer I draw inspiration from seeing what’s out there.  It helps open up the creative boundaries I sometimes place on myself, enabling me to push my own envelope and move from my comfort zone.  It’s okay to try and even fail because it is all part of learning.

These are 3 of Keira Grant’s images that I submitted to Shots juried competition “The Body”.  Hopefully 1 or some of the 12 that I sent will pique their interest.  So hard to tell what someone else is looking for. They won’t get noticed sitting on your hard drive, you have to be in it to win it.  Jene also submitted a few images so I wish both of us luck.  We’ll find out soon enough when the spring issue # 111 is delivered.

Being in love and now married to photographer, Jene Youtt has had a positive effect on my creativity and vice versa.  Although our styles vary, there are underlying similarities.   We try to start stories for the viewer to relate to.   I listen to his concepts, lending support whenever I can and have become his unpaid model for some experimental lighting tests.

Jene has many years of lighting experience (the 2 emmy’s on his shelf are there for a reason) and all sorts of equipment in which he creates.  Only recently did I purchase an off camera flash and wireless trigger.  Before that using natural light, then in a home studio with 2 hand-me-down hot lights and 1 spot on a boom stand that I use as a hair light, I do alright.  When we shoot together in his NY studio, he uses multiple flashes/softboxes and even a beauty dish.  My captures are lit with the overhead modeling and a side softbox so that I don’t trigger his lights.  Even though we are shooting side by side with the same models, the captures are different.  Jene tends to use color as an underlying emotional factor which sets the tone.  I love the way he lights for color, a true artist, creating mood that embodies the image, adding drama and an edginess.

My work is simpler in form and function.  The light plays upon the subject, revealing and drawing you in.  I’m guessing because that’s in my nature.  Jene the type of person that probes deeper, asking questions while I wait for the moment you open up to me.  He knows what he wants to bring out and is better at verbalizing direction also Jene tries to meet with the models first, explaining what his project is about and seeing if they are right for him.   I set the scene differently,  I talk and see what a model can give me.

When we first met, he asked me what my dreams were…  maybe he instinctively knew that he would have to draw things out of me, peeling off the layers.   I sat quietly on his couch, talking but mostly listening and allowed his feelings to rise to the surface.   The outcome was the same, the approach was different.  He cuts to the chase – his work reflects that – BAM!  He is a master of light and shadow.  I think his work is powerful and blows me away.  I am blown away by my images too but my images tend to be softer.

These images were from a photohoot that Jene set up for himself and let me shoot along with him.  He used his Canon D20, 70-200mm lens with flash while I shot with a Canon Rebel with a fixed 50mm lens using the overhead modeling light as my main source of light with hugh boucnecards to reflect as much light as possible.  The similarity and difference are both apparent.   Emma’s grace comes across effortless.  To see more of Jene’s work click on his name.  For a more extensive look at my website click Mary Durante Wehrhahn

We’ve exhibited together and separately in the NY/NJ Metro area and Jene had a solo exhibit in Kyoto, Japan.  Funny how 2 people find each other and how your separate lives can meld together so easily.

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2011 Juried photography competitions

Yesterday was the final day to submit images for the”Human + Being” competition held by The Center for Fine Art Photography, in Ft. Collins, CO.

I finally uploaded 3 images yesterday but it takes me days to go through my shots to see which ones I think the judge might like.  Talk about second guessing yourself.  Sometimes it is a panel of jurors.  This one is Phil Borges.  His work is incredible and so I wonder will he be looking for something better than his own (if that is possible) or something totally different that lies within the confines of the theme.  As artists we can think out of the box so the confines are up to your interpretation.



One dollar, one dollar

In the past one of Jene’s images made the final cut and was exhibited in their space.  Of course, that meant matting, framing with plexi and shipping in hopes that someone will like it enough to buy it.  If not they will ship it back to you.  Is it worh the expense of shipping?  Who knows.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  But shipping art can be costly.  When Jene’s was selected for a solo exhibit in Kyoto, Japan, the gallery said that they would frame the prints there in order to keep the costs down.  They also paid for the return of the images that didn’t sell.  Lucky for them the return package was lighter than the the one Jene sent.  The downside was resizing all 30 images for the specific frame size that the gallery dictated.  The upside was – we flew to Japan and made a whirl wind vacation out of it, meeting a fellow photographer Hirotaka Kasuga before venturing over to Cambodia.

Hirotaka was affiliated with Soho Photo Gallery in NYC, of which Jene was also a member.  Jene contacted him and through emails Hiro invited us to stay at his home/gallery in the Izu Peninsula.  We had dinner with his lovely wife before dropping her at the train station as she had work waiting for her.  We spent a relaxing hour at a public bath/ spa.  He was charming, warm and very accomodating, driving us to interesting sites with a view of  Mt Fuji in the distance and later to our hostel in the Fuji Lake area.

I guess, my point is, you never know who will like your work unless you get it out there.  But the competition is vast and the winners are few so I expect little but have a hint of anticipation for a pleasant surprise (not holding my breath) that some day my prints will come.  😉

Sunday,  January 23, 2011  2-5pm  Montclair University’s George Segal Gallery – artist opening (also a juried competition) will be exhibiting one of my floral prints as well as one of Jene’s images.  All are invited – the more the merrier.

Feb. 1st is  Shots Magazine deadline   theme “The Body”.  Now I certainly have enough nudes living in my hard drives but have to figure out how I want to interpret this juried competition.  Shot’s Magazine is a photography quarterly printed solely in B&W.

I’m thinking of submitting some of Keira Grants nudes.  She is a traveling fine art model of Jene’s choosing and although I was looking for a totally different concept she was lovely and worked with me.  The look I got was different than what I wanted but some of the images really blew me away.  Some very ethereal images.

I did little to change the lighting that Jene set up for his portion of the session and at times we simultaneously clicked our shutters resulting for me in an overexposed image because of his flashes.  Often giving me something totally unexpected.  He utilizes his flash units while I relied solely on the modeling light as my main soruce; which gives our images a totally different realm of creative style.  I am one of his biggest fans and wish I could shoot conceptually like him at times but that is not who I am.   His work is stunning, colors although dark are vibrant as he dramatically plays with light, shadow and movement in his own way.  His work can be appreciate on so many levels.  Skill being one of them.  He is a master of light having been the recipiant of 2 Emmys for his lighting design for major TV networks.

Although I shoot in color, I convert about half my images to B&W.   My work can also be considered stunning but in a much more subtle way and if you don’t take the time to stop and look, you may miss it.  Like a whisper draws one closer, that’s more like me,  the closer you get, the more you see, appreciate and understand.

Shots Magazine allows you to submit up to 12 images so I can have a couple different styles of images.  We’ll see, afterall, I still have plenty of time to bat this back and forth in my head until it hurts….

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Filed under fine art nudes, George Segal Gallery, Jene Youtt, lights, Mary Durante Wehrhahn, Montclair State University, photography