Aug 082012

The Sony RX100 Shoots Seal in Concert! By Barry Burris


I finally got a chance to catch Seal in concert on August 1st, in Tulsa, Oklahoma at The Brady Theater. I have been a fan for two decades and this is his first time performing in Oklahoma.

What an amazing show.

I knew I would be close, just not how close and was blown away to find myself just to the left of the riser with the 4 seats directly in front of the riser empty (due to “restricted view” , no so when you are 6’3”). I took two cameras with me, the new Sony RX100 and the now year old Fuji X100 with the new wide angle adaptor. So far I have only processed the Sony images and thus far have been blown away. I am saving the Fuji images until I have more time but expect even more great images.

The four images I have included are pretty much straight out of the camera with the exception of two being converted to B&W and one toned. And these are jpgs, RAW conversion yet to come. My personal preference is B&W (lusting for an Leica Monochrom) but needless to say the concert lends itself to color.

Both cameras performed admirably but habit has me leaning towards the Fuji, I have just never gotten the hang of composing a shot by not holding the camera to my eye via a view finder. Seems to eliminate an important physical connection. I will keep the Sony as there is nothing currently close to its image quality that can fit in a pocket.

I am hoping for another tour next year or two and I plan on taking the time to go to multiple shows. I have seen hundreds of shows and this was easily in my top five.

Will be publishing more images to my site in the coming week and the four I have included look great printed.


Barry Burris

Nov 172011

The Leica M9 is STILL my Fave “Pro” camera and here is why…

By Steve Huff

Over the last couple of years I have used the M9 mainly as a pro tool. I have taken it across the country on three tours with musician/photographer/friend Seal as well as had a few select shots chosen for his new CD release “Soul 2”. I could have taken something like a Nikon D700 or Canon 5DII or even a Nikon D3s, but nope…I wanted to shoot with a Leica M, even with the challenging light conditions of a fast paced show. The metering, the manual focus, and shooting with wide aperture lenses was a challenge indeed. Many times the M9 would be plastered to my eye with hand on the lens barrel constantly adjusting the focus as the action moved at a frantic pace. I even had a 3 month long rash on my right eye due to having the viewfinder on it so much over a 4 week period. Now that is dedication! Lol.

The truth is I sit here every day and I write about cameras. To many it may seem I have fallen out of love with my Leica. Well, that is not true. The Leica sits on the shelf much more, mainly due to the cost and the fact that I want to reserve it for pro work if and when it comes up. I have at least 3-4 cameras come through my house EVERY month these days so I get to try the latest and greatest cameras like the Sony NEX-5n, NEX-7, Olympus E-P3, Nikon V1, Ricoh GXR M Module, and more.

As much as I love these small mirrorless cameras I have yet to see ONE of them that would or could replace the M9 for me in a pro situation. Sure they have fast AF, good high ISO, decent metering and even awesome video but none can deliver the kind of image a Leica M can with a good Leica or even Zeiss lens, even older classic glass. For personal use I prefer to just grab one of the little guys like the NEX or V1 as the quality has jumped up in the last year or two quite substantially for these cameras. Still, if there is a situation where I need good low light performance or a “magic touch” there really is no substitute for an M camera.

The heat of the action..I wait for the jump…the M9 is being focused at a blistering pace..then BAM – fire and catch the shot at 1.4 with the 50 Lux ASPH. The M9 with a good lens will render an image unlike any other camera. This is FACT. No other camera will render the subject this sharp while melting away the background so smoothly. It’s all about the transitions and when I do shoot the M9, my images are always a cut above any other camera I have shot with. Some will not agree with me, but I know from experience and thats what counts.

The fact is though is that the M9 is CRAZY INSANE EXPENSIVE. It does have issues at times as well and is not perfect but when it nails it, it nails it. There is just something about the images from the M9 and I appreciate them more when I do not shoot with one for 2-3 months. I then go back and say “Oh Yea, that is why I paid so much money for that camera”. So for pro use, at least in my uses of shooting live shows it delivered time after time.

Yes this is out of focus but I still love it

I have been really enjoying shooting the Nikon V1 and NEX-7 recently, both great cameras but so different from each other, and the Leica. People say a good photographer can shoot with any camera and get results no matter what but honestly, if I shot the images I am showing here with a different camera, the images would NOT have been the same or had the same impact. The Leica gives a bit of “uniqueness” to your images WHEN you use certain lenses. What lenses? Stupid expensive ones like the 35 Summilux ASPH, 50 Summilux, 50 Noctilux will give you that something special in your photos.

You will not be able to focus close, you will only have manual focus available, the camera and lens will at times give you out of focus images but at the end of the day it always came through for me, even in Paris France this year when my rangefinder was out of alignment and almost evert image I shot that night was off a bit in focus. Even then, one image from that night made Seals new Album cover, “Soul 2”, mis-focus and all.

Speaking of Soul 2, I had 7 images from my M9 shots make it into the album cover, back, and booklet and for me, this was the most exciting news of 2011 :)

So even after  over 2 years the M9 is still very relevant in the digital camera world, which is why Leica has a slower recycle rate when it comes to their digitals. They make a camera with the basics we all love. Build quality, image quality and control. I feel the company is sometimes off track but they do what they do and they have had their best years ever since the M9 was introduced. Personally I feel it was due to all of the internet exposure on blogs that have popped up in the last year or two. I started writing about Leica because I love the brand and what it stands for. Others jumped in to make quick sales and a quick buck with their established blogs while others created all new blogs devoted to Leica. So today Leica is enjoying the most publicity it has ever known in the history of the company.

Today I wrote this post because I just wanted to point out to the naysayers and doubters who screamed out from day one about the M9 not being able to be used a s a pro camera, that it can indeed in fact be used for pro work! Ive seen many others do the same with their M’s. Some of the highest paid wedding shooters are using M cameras these days. They do this because the M gives them an advantage over the guys who shoot with the D3’s and 5D’s. Like it or not, the M9 and good lens can capture light like no other camera I have seen to date. Having limited ISO up to 2500 is not really a deal breaker when you shoot with 1.4 lenses. Most of my live shots were shot at ISO 160 because I shot the lenses wide open, how they were meant to be shot.

There will always be those who say that a Leica has no edge or difference in their photos. In many cases it will not but you will see the difference when you slap a Leica Summilux or Noctilux lens on your M. That is a fact.

The Leica M9 requires patience. It requires dedication. It requires that you learn how to get the most from it by shooting RAW and correctly processing the files. The M9 can be temperamental at times but if you take care of it then it will reward you with images that have that “little bit more” than other cameras give you and it is my belief it is all about the lenses. The cool thing is that the Leica lenses usually APPRECIATE on the used market so while  they cost an arm and a leg, if you hold on to them they will always be worth just about what you paid. Sometimes more, sometimes a little less.

With an M10 supposedly coming in 2012 the M9 may still be preferred by many if Leica puts in an EVF and video and other modes into the new model. My crystal ball saw some kind of EVF for the next digital M…but it was still a bit fuzzy :)

For those that own the M9, enjoy it and know that you have a camera capable of shooting almost whatever you want (besides macro and telephoto that is) with some of the best quality I have seen in a 35mm digital camera yet.

You can buy an M9 at Dale Photo, B&H Photo and Ken Hansen. The M9-P is also available now at Dale and Ken Hansen.

BTW, you can now Pre-Order Soul 2 at Amazon or iTunes. Here is a cool preview of the album…

Sep 302011

New Seal Album “Soul 2” to be released in November!


My image from the Paris show made the cover and there are 6-7 more inside  the booklet and back cover!  

Just found out today that the new Seal Album “Soul 2” will be released in November, which is extra super cool because my image made the cover! I have to say, I think it is his coolest album cover ever (but I am biased), lol. Anyway, check out the info at SEAL.COM!

BTW, the cover image was shot with a Leica M9 and 50 Noctilux wide open at 0.95 in Paris France!

Aug 102011

Random Photographs from my month on tour with Seal that were never posted!

Let’s see. I’m a photographer and being away for a month on tour across Europe would mean that I most likely took LOADS of photos right? Well, yes and no. I did take quite a few photos but I tried to be selective most of the time :) I am not the type of shooter that machine guns it, especially when using a Leica M9. BUT there are a few photos from my month long journey that never made it to the blog so I decided to post a few that I liked here. This is a photography blog after all! The times I had during those 30 days are times I will never forget, and I am thrilled to have photos to remember it all :) Enjoy.


Jul 112011


Hello to all! Happy Monday morning! I am now back home in Phoenix AZ after spending the last 4 weeks on the summer Seal tour. The tour is still rolling on, so be sure to check the tour schedule if you want to go check it out but I had to get home early for some other obligations like my Son, my bills, and my upcoming workshop in Seattle (which I am soooo excited about)! The last show I shot was the Jazz Festival in Rotterdam Holland and what a cool show!

When I arrived to the front of the stage for showtime there were about 40 photographers all lined up and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to squeeze in so I let them shoot the 1st three songs and then I jumped in to shoot the rest. It’s always cool having an “All Access” pass :)

The stage was quite far from me though so there was no real way of getting any cool angles or perspectives but I shot away with my new black M9-P (ahhh, so gorgeous!) and 50 Summilux ASPH which may as well be glued on my camera! I also had a 2nd body with the 24 Summilux attached so a few shots were taken with that AMAZING lens. I have to say that if you want a superb 24mm, the Summilux has a way of rendering images that is just magical, especially when used at 1.4. I fell in love with that lens pretty quick.

After the show I had a few hours before catching a car to the Amsterdam airport for my flight home so I had to pack up, go through some shots and be on my way. Made it back home after 16 hours of flying and just woke up bright an early to make this post!

It will be a REALLY busy next couple of days for me but I plan on doing some new reviews really soon, so keep an eye out! Here are some of the shots from the Rotterdam, Holland show. Enjoy and as always, click the image for a closer look!

If you are looking for an M9-P you can check the usual suspects…B&H Photo, Dale Photo and Ken Hansen! Also, don’t forget you can rent anything Leica at!

and a portrait backstage after the show, natural overhead light, 50 Lux ASPH

Jul 092011

Wow, just woke up this morning on the bus as we pulled in to Rotterdam Holland. I was dreaming that I was drowning in a big pile of goat cheese…don’t ask me why, I have no clue why I would have a dream like that. Odd :)


I left Paris last night around 2Am on the tour bus headed towards Rotterdam. When I arrived in Paris on Thursday I was tired but also excited to see the city, taste the food, and see if what I heard was true…that French people dislike Americans! Woo hoo…an adventure was waiting to unfold…or was it?

As I arrived to the beautiful Park Hyatt I freshened up with a nice hot shower and shave and put on some fresh clothes. Being on a tour bus day in and out can really do a number on you in the body odor department as there is no shower or way to clean up on the bus. After a show I am generally all sweaty and then all I can do is hop on a bus to sleep.  After that you wake up feeling a bit…icky.

So it felt so good to be in a great city, and a great hotel. I have to say, it was the nicest shower I have ever been in. Period.

Visiting a local camera shop in Paris – Iphone 4 and Hipstamatic

I was ready to take on the day with a visit to a couple of camera shops, a yummy dinner, and I also planned to meet another photographer who I have known for a while through facebook, Helene Pambrun. Helene is very passionate about photography, as well as passionate about life in general and she was coming in to Paris for a couple of photo assignments and it just so happened that the timing worked out perfectly so that we could finally meet.

I always enjoy meeting new friends and other photographers who I have chatted with online. I think it is pretty amazing that we have this technology these days where we can meet anyone, in any part of the world, and things like facebook and even this website bring like minded people together. Amazing!

Having some tea in Paris :) Iphone 4/Hipstamatic

Knowing that Helene was taking the train in from her home town of Toulouse I decided to see if I could set it up where she could get a pass to shoot the Paris Seal show. BINGO! Full access pass granted. I knew of her work as I saw some of her work she did at a Lenny Kravitz show so I knew she would do great shooting Seal :)

Helene Pambrun, See her website here and here

So on Thursday I toured a bit of Paris and had some great Pasta with pesto sauce. Yummy. I did take my M9 out but also started shooting with my Iphone and hipstamatic because sometimes you can get really cool results with it. Hipstamatic is pretty fun, even after using it for over a year it is the one phone app I keep coming back to.

Legs, always an interesting subject…

The beauty of Hipstamatic is that you never know what you will get..I usually shake mine before every shot to get a random effect.

and a couple from the M9

So after taking a walk on Thursday and seeing some cool sights I slept like a baby in my comfy bed and awoke on Friday feeling refreshed and revived. Amazing what a good nights sleep can do in a nice comfy bed huh? I ended up taking a quick walk to see what kind of shopping was around my hotel. Didn’t really buy anything but again, took along my Iphone in case I saw any cool photos along the way.

I did not get anything really interesting on that walk but it was getting close to show time so I headed back  to my hotel and guess what was waiting for me when I got there? Yep my new Black M9-P…lovely! Now THIS is how the M9 should look. Stealthy, classic and with no logos on the front. Looks like an MP, just not as shiny. I have to say though, the chrome M9-P is also very beautiful, maybe more so than the black, but I wanted black after seeing both and am happy with my choice.

of course I was smiling and had to get a shot using the camera..

We all headed over to the venue on the bus and arrived super early due to the hotel making us leave (they were sold out and needed the rooms).

I took a walk around the venue and this time brought along my M9 AND Iphone. I spotted this couple kissing and couldn’t resist a quick snap.

I think this WAS the BEST Lasagna I have ever had in my life.

The show started and away I went. I saw Helene shooting not only with her Camera but with her Iphone so I took a stab at it..

But then it was right back to the M9-P :)

and some color…

After the show there was an after party where some of the fans were able to meet Seal. I even met a few more friends who visit this site on a regular basis, so that was pretty awesome. It was cool to see a few Leicas in the group :) After the meet and greet it was time to say goodbye to friends and head back on the bus for the trip to Rotterdam, where I am now sitting at 4:37PM in my hotel room. Paris was lovely and I will have to make sure I get back there soon for some serious photo taking. Maybe a workshop in Paris? Hmmm…anything is possible!

I am looking forward to getting home to loved ones and to get everything in order at home. Besides, I have been battling some rash near my eye for a week so a Dr. visit is in order anyway. It’s been a fun 4 weeks on the road and one more show tonight for me before heading back home to Phoenix, AZ. If anyone is in Rotterdam tonight be sure and say hi!

It was great to meet all of you after the show, and I also want to thank Helene for coming to the show to shoot and showing me around Paris. Looks like she posted an image or two already on her facebook so click here to check it out and if you like what you see, click “Like”. Of course you can also check for all of the tour photos, including those that I do not post here.

Until next time (which may be when I am back home in Phx), keep shooting and make it a GOOD DAY, everyday!

Oh, and did I find the people of Paris to be rude or to dislike Americans? Not in my experience. Maybe you get what you give, and I am always nice to everyone :)

Ben at the after party last night…

Seal with legendary producer Trevor Horn

and Conrad the bus driver, the crazy [email protected]. looking for some available shoes – (inside joke)

Jul 062011

Having some Fun in Pula, Croatia! Behind the Scenes!

Wow, what a month! So many cool places and it just keeps getting better. Took some more behind the scenes stuff which is always fun.

Last night we stopped over in Pula, Croatia and I managed to squeeze in some time to walk the streets, have dinner and of course, photograph everything! With no internet on the bus, what else is there to do? Lol. I’ll just get straight to the images but if you want to learn more about Pula, you can click here.

Right outside of my hotel! I took advantage and caught some sun for an hour or so. Gorgeous.


Seal and the band played here, at an old colosseum which is now the Arena…and it was amazingly cool

This lady was a lot of fun. When I approached her and her dog with my camera she smiled and laughed. She was wondering why I wanted her picture. In reality, I thought she looked cool sitting there with her white outfit, her white dog and black hat.

When shooting in the streets my usual approach is to shoot first, ask later. This boy was wondering why my camera was aimed at him and I love the look he gave me when I fired the shutter.

There seemed to be quite a bit of this going on through the side streets. People hanging out of their windows conversing with the people down below. It was a cool vibe.

I waited for this girl to look my way and as soon as she did I snapped the shot. I then nodded my head and smiled, and she smiled back. I find that most of the time people do not mind getting their pictures taken.

Back at the arena Seal was doing Soundcheck and sounding great..check out his shirt :)

Steve Nimmer, the stage manager was sleeping in the sun as the night before he was putting together the stage during a HUGE thunderstorm.

But he soon woke to get some finishing touches done before showtime…

Back in the room Mark and Gus were rehearsing a new song…

and SHOWTIME! I only used  the 24 & 50 Summilux for this show

Steve (also an M9 shooter) is the guitar tech for Seal and Mark and keeps busy during the show as you can see here…

The crowd getting into it…


Jul 032011

Meeting with Leica in Vienna

It’s Sunday July 3rd and here I am in my hotel in Budapest after a 4 hour drive on the tour bus from Vienna. While I did not have time to walk around Vienna we did go back to the amazing Westlicht camera, the most incredible camera shop, used shop, museum and gallery I have ever seen in one spot.

If you have not ever been to Westlicht camera I HIGHLY recommend it for all Leica fans. Peter who runs and owns Westlicht is super passionate and has extensive knowledge of everything Leica. In fact he let us see and touch the Leica camera that just sold recently at Auction for 1.3 Million…amazing!

Seal giving the 1.3 million Leica a kiss

Seal picked up some goodies at Westlicht but I couldn’t let him have ALL the fun. As you guys know, I have been shooting my Noctilux 0.95 but the weight does start to get to you day in and day out so I managed to pick up a 50 Summilux ASPH to use as my daily #1 lens. I have owned this lens several times but could not pass up the opportunity to get one since there is a 9-12 month wait to order one these days.

As with all of you, anytime I get a new lens, even if I have owned it before, I want to use it immediately so I put away the Nocti for a while and used the Lux as my lens cap :) All images in THIS post were shot with the 50 Summilux ASPH.

While at Westlicht Camera I was able to Meet Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, head honcho at Leica camera. Was so cool to meet him as well as all of the others I have been in contact with for the past two years.

The man himself, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann

Steffen Keil with Seal, probably the coolest guy at Leica who has some GREAT ideas for their future. Cool shirt huh?

We had lunch while there and check out this lovely M3…it was AMAZING and would have bought it on the spot if it were for sale. I love the look of well worn Leica black paint cameras. In person it was a true  thing of beauty. Being at Westlicht was like being a kid in a candy store, for me and Seal both. Look at the rendering of the magical 50 Summilux when wide open. Click image for larger version.

Riding up the elevator to the 2nd floor..ISO 1600, no NR

saw this woman  in the gallery and looked like a good shot…

Here is the girl who was in charge of the Polaroid store. In case you didnt know, Westlicht is home of the IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT. Some of the Polaroids in the gallery were some of the best photographs I have ever seen in my life. Made me want to buy a Polaroid and some of their new black frame film. It was amazing.

We spent a few hours at Westlicht and had to then head to the venue for the show at the Opera House, which was BEAUTIFUL! I decided to shoot the entire show with the Summilux to see how it compared to the Nocti in this setting. I was NOT disappointed. I’m only posting a few here and if you want to see them all you can do so at

Enjoy the latest shots! I will be posting more articles tomorrow and getting to all of my e-mail as I have a day off in Croatia. Looking forward to a day of relaxation and getting caught up! I am also looking forward to Paris where I will have a day off and I plan on doing some street shooting, which has been something I have always wanted to do ever since I have seen the work of Yanidel. Until next time!




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Jun 282011

The Seal tour in Brussels, Silver Efex Pro II & Creating moods with Black & White

By Steve Huff

Here it is Tuesday morning and I am in St. Petersburg, Russia and ready to head out to the next Seal show.

The Last  show was a blast in Brussels, Belgium and I had quite a bit of fun shooting it! There were between 25-26,000 people in attendance and it was one hell of a night with an amazing music loving crowd who were singing, dancing, and just having a great time the whole night. The energy was certainly there and to capture it I decided to go B&W with a little bit of a gritty feel.

Why go black and white for a concert full of life and color? From the stage lights, to the buildings surrounding the venue, color was everywhere! In fact, the photos look great in color but to me, this particular set looked better in B&W. I feel that in some situations going black & white can add a bit of drama and soul to your photos, and when presented in an entire B&W set, that is even better/stronger. Creating a theme/mood can always help to set apart a set of photos so for this entire set, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro II to convert, add grain and I think the results are fantastic. “DARE TO BE DIFFERENT” is what I always say. Breaking away from the generic norm can be good from time to time :)

It also goes to show a photo does not have to be technically and digitally perfect to pack a punch. Give me imperfections, broken rules, misfocus and grit and grain any day. Sometimes, these types of photos can be the most powerful.

For past B&W conversions I have been using Alien Skin Exposure 3, and I really enjoy its ease of use and simple presets. I have had a few people ask if I have used the new Silver Efex Pro II so I decided to download it and give it a try. Once I started using it I was enjoying its complexity and control points. With Silver Efex, I feel I get a little more control than I do with Alien Skin, though it can be slower and more involved.

So after going through the photos from the last show I converted a couple of them and liked them so much I converted the whole set over. If you did not yet give Silver Efex Pro II a try, you can download the free demo here and it will work with Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. B&H Photo also sells Silver Efex Pro 2 if you want the hard CD copy and box.

This is not really a review of SIlver Efex Pro II as it is best to just download the free demo to try it for yourself. What I will show you is the images I shot at this huge show in Brussels and every one of them was converted using Silver Efex. Dare I say it? I find some of these pretty film like, so it seems to be doing its job. Hope you enjoy the images as  these are without a doubt my favorite images I have shot of Seal performing to date!

Jun 222011

Know your camera and you can do great things…

By Steve Huff

So last night I was shooting the Seal show in Vilnius Lithuania and upon arriving to the venue I realized it was going to be my biggest challenge yet for shooting. Why? Well, the arena was sort of drab, dark, and dull AND I was sort of forced to shoot SUPER close to the stage, like, right up against it. To add to that, the stage was VERY high up, almost as tall as me, so I knew any shot I took would be from a bad angle. What to do? How about throw on a 24 Summilux to the M9 and hope for the best? Yea, thats it. Luckily I had a 24 in my bag.

I decided to use the 24 because I KNOW my camera, and I knew exactly what kind of results I would get from slapping on a 24mm lens in the situation I was in. I also knew how the 24 Summilux would render and how I could get away with slow shutter speeds due to the M9’s capabilities with a steady hand.

The fill in temporary drummer Obed at sound check.  24 Summilux at 1.4 on the Leica M9

For most shows I shoot the 50 Noctilux 90% of the time but last night I shot the 24 Lux 90% and the results are quite different, but I like it. I liked it so much that after the show I was inspired to write yet another article, this time on “knowing your camera”. How many of you really know your camera? I mean, really know it? I know I do, and that helps me out more than you know!

Do you know what settings give you the best results for different situations? Do you know what lens will give you the best result for a given circumstance? Do you know its ISO performance max limits and the way to get the best images you can from it? Have you “bonded” with your camera? Yes, BONDED.  It sounds strange but I know there are many of you reading this who do indeed have a certain bond, a certain “oneness” with your camera. I know I have this with my M9, and I am actually starting to get there with the Fuji X100.

Shooting the 24 meant I had to be CLOSE, and since I was stuck up next to the tall stage I knew I could get some dramatic shots and great audience interactions.

Once you have this “bond” with your camera you can shoot without stress, without worry, without hassle. You go by instinct and by “seeing” and “doing”. When I walk around the crowd or near the stage I am always looking for the next shot, and at the same time I try my best to not repeat myself every single night. The last thing I want is to stress about settings or lenses or whatever. By having this bond with my Leica, I do not have ANY worries when the night starts as I know that as long as my camera is working, I will have many opportunities to capture the spirit of the performance.

The 24 Lux ROCKED last night in Vilnius! As always, I shoot these lenses as they were meant to be shot, wide open!

My job on this tour, if you can call it a job (I don’t as it’s been my lifelong passion..a dream come true) is to document this tour while I am along for the ride. Concert shots, video, behind the scenes stuff..whatever I can capture. Seal is not really my boss, but rather a great friend who puts ZERO stress on me and gives me 100% creative control on what to shoot. With that said, I always strive to do my best every show even though when I look at my photos I usually only end up really liking one or two shots. But as may of you know, as photographers we are always overly critical of our own work.

But as I said earlier, by really KNOWING my camera gear I can let my mind be free and just shoot organically. Does that make sense? I hope so.

So how does one bond with their camera? First, you have to really like your tool of choice. You have to enjoy holding it, shooting it, controlling it. If you do not even like your camera then it will be very hard to get this bond. The most important thing for me is to really enjoy USING the camera. This is why I am such a HUGE fan of the Leica M series. Film or digital, the usability factor is HIGH and once you know it inside and out you can shoot quicker and more effectively with an all manual M9 than even an auto focus blazing DSLR.

The 24 Lux with the M9 sitting on the stage captures Gus Isidore  – love the rendering of the 24 on the M9. Gorgeous.

Again, the 24 Lux wide open. We met this Mother & Daughter the day before while street shooting and here they are in the front row.

Of course I did slap the 50 Noct on every now and then…

Knowing my camera allowed me to get this shot of Seals silhouette.

To bond with your camera you also have to know its menu system. Learn it, know it and set it..them FORGET IT. I never change anything in my M9’s menu, ever. It is set the same as it was months ago. This way I know EXACTLY what to expect from it. No surprises. Again, when you know what to expect, you have that freedom to capture without the stress of technical details. Stress free shooting equals better images IMO.

In order to really connect with your photographic tool, you also need to be passionate about photography. If you have a true desire to shoot and create then you are 90% of the way there.

Once you have the passion along with a camera you really enjoy using, and you know its menu system and have set it up to your liking, then it is all about SHOOTING as much as possible. Before you know it you will have that connection with your camera.

Also learn all of the characteristics of your lenses. For this shot I knew the Noctilux would give me this amazing flare, and IMO it adds to the atmosphere of the shot.

Also knowing your depth of field – what will be and wont be in focus is key to creating images that match the vision you have in your head.

Carol Jarvis rocking out during “Amazing” – check her out on facebook HERE and press like!

I get asked all of the time how I create these photos with a manual camera. How they are so sharp, focused correctly and capture the feeling of the show. I’m not any kind of photography master, far from it. I chalk it up to really knowing my gear and my passion for what I do. SO stick with your camera and learn it, live it and take it with you everywhere. Before you know it, you will have that same bond with it and your photos will improve dramatically.

Hope you enjoyed the post! I am leaving for Brussels Belgium in 2 hours so have to get packing! I’ll leave you with a few more shots from last nights show…

Paul Summerlin, a new and awesome addition to Seals band as well as guitarist Mark Summerlins brother!

How about a shot from the Fuji X100? Here ya go! f/2! BTW, the title image at the very top of this page was also from the X100. Seems to do quite well but I can focus my M faster every time.

after the show its all about winding down, having fun and hanging out for a while



Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page!

Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Be sure and visit the all new forums on the site HERE! THANK YOU ALL!

Jun 182011

Seal Tour Rehearsals are OVER, it’s almost SHOWTIME!

Sitting in my hotel room nearly 5000 miles away from home today and relaxing before the big night. I’m still in Tallinn getting prepared to shoot some photos and video at the kickoff Seal show tonight in Parnu, Estonia. It’s still strange to me that it is 9 am here and 11pm at home in Phx, AZ. Makes it tricky for talking with loved ones who I am already missing :)

This past week has been all rehearsals and preparing for the show. There have been some new additions to the band and I have to say that they sound incredible and pretty damn powerful. Hanging in Tallinn has also been a treat as the weather has been nice and cool, the people fantastic and the hotel and food wonderful. Also, photographing Tallinn has been AMAZING.

But now it’s time to get rolling as the first show of the Summer Europe tour starts in about 9 hours. For the next few weeks I will be shooting with the M9, 24 lux, 50 Noct and 90 Summicron for the concert photos along with a few here and there with the X100, to test out out in a concert setting. Also, I’ll be shooting some behind the scenes video with the Iphone and 8mm app which I think is pretty freaking amazing for an el cheap-o phone app.

Soon we will all be on the road bussing it across Europe. Should be many photo opps ahead :)

I may also shoot some video with the NEX or X100…we’ll see how that goes later. I’ll be posting some cool stuff every time I get a few hours and WiFi, so check back every day! I’ll leave you with a couple of shots from rehearsals…

Fuji X100 at ISO 3200 during rehearsals on Thursday

Gus Isidore on Guitar – X100 at ISO 800 –  f/2

Marcus Brown – bass/keys – M9 and Nocti wide open…

With Carol Jarvis (Trombone/Keys/Vocals) – Nocti wide open

Here is a shot taken with the M9 and a 50 Summilux PRE-ASPH at 1.4

and another of guitar tech McBob with the Lux Pre-Asph at 1.4…

New addition to the Band, Holly Palmer and Paul Summerlin

Apr 252011

Seal South American Tour 2011 Highlight Video – “If I’m Any Closer”

While I was with Seal on his South American tour my #1 job wast to shoot photos. During 3-4 of the shows I had a Sony VG10 hanging at my side so I would occasionally get a few video grab shots here and there. Nothing spectacular on their own but I decided to throw a few of them together, add a song from Seals new CD “Commitment” and then see how it turned out. This was a “just for fun” thing while I had some spare time on the tour and was never really meant for any kind of release, just personal. I ended up liking it as did Seal, so here it is! Next tour I will concentrate more on video as well as the photos. BTW, Seal just announced his Summer European tour, you can check out the some of the initial dates at his website HERE.

Apr 102011

Here I am in my hotel winding down my two days in Cape Town South Africa. THIS has been the absolute best stop of the Seal tour over the past month, for me at least. HANDS DOWN! I mean, I could live here and be happy. The weather is gorgeous, the people are friendly and happy, the food is delicious, and the beach…WOW. The beach is incredible. Food and clothes also cost about HALF of what it would cost me back home in the USA. Yes my friends, Cape Town is a place to visit for a week or two, chill out and just unwind.

We only have 2 1/2 days here total so I am making the best of it while I can.

Seal and the guys doing sound check at the private show last night

Seal played a private show here last night so it was a very small group, and a small club style venue and stage. Even though it was a much different vibe it was still a blast! Not only did I meet yet another reader of this blog, who happened to be the paid photographer for the person throwing the party, I also met another awesome photographer who was shooting the whole event. I had a lovely time. After the show me and a couple of the guys went for a late night snack and beer, and the streets were hopping, even at 2AM.

But let me rewind a bit. Earlier in the day, after the guys did their soundcheck, we took a quick walk to the beach and I brought along the Leica M9 (In stock at DALE photo now) and Noctilux f/0.95 ASPH, as well as the Sony NEX-5 and Leica adapter.

The M9 and Noctilux on the Beach

Next 5 shots, the M9 and Nocti/35 Cron combo on the beach in Cape Town – click images for larger and better versions

The next two shots are from the M9 and 35 Summicron

and back to the Nocti…

THE NEX-5 with Leica Glass…

We all know how good the Leica M9 and Nocti combo is, but how about the little NEX-5? I did not shoot it too much last night but did manage a few shots. I prefer shooting my M as that is what I am so used to, but the NEX-5, at $699, did a decent job. It will not..and I repeat, WILL NOT beat or even challenge an M9 file (I tried really hard) for sharpness, detail and snap but at 1/10th the cost of an M9, and being able to use Leica lenses on it, the NEX-5 is actually a tiny little masterpiece of a camera. The color can be gorgeous…

The next three images were all with the NEX-5 and Noctilux ASPH

SHOWTIME with the NEX and the M9

The show last night was intimate, personal and was also a private show for a great guy who has been a HUGE Seal fan since day one. The crowd was small but everyone had a great time. I mostly shot the M9 and Nocti as this gig was low lights. No huge stage or elaborate lighting setup so I had to go with what worked, and the Nocti just works!

I did take a few with the NEX-5 and Leica 50 Summicron and I really like the results. One thing to note…I shot the M9 and Nocti combo at ISO 2500 in B&W JPEG mode. What you see here are all OOC JPEGS that I tinted with a Sepia tone. ISO 2500, low light…where is the noise?

My goal for the night was to capture the energy, emotion, excitement, sweat, grit, and passion of the show. As I already mentioned, there were two other photographers there and I am excited to see some of their images as I always love seeing how others “see” through the lens.

Hope you enjoy the shots.

First, the M9 images from the show…

The M9 and Nocti ASPH wide open…

I always love the way the Noctilux renders every little detail.

Even though this was a small private show, the guys took this on with full energy

Sid tearing up the drums…

Probably my fave shot of the night. I went behind the drums to get this one.

Gus on guitar…

Always love taking shots of the crowd. This is a direct OOC, JPEG. Again, as with ALL of the others, ISO 2500.

This one was underexposed and I brought it out which is why there is noise in this one. With the M9, even in  VERY low light, if you expose properly you will get a semi clean file even at max ISO. Underexpose though, and you are in trouble. Even so, I LOVE this shot!

One thing I learned from shooting Leica at live performances. You do NOT always have to be up close to get a nice performance shot! If I had a SLR and Zoom I would have been trying to zoom in here. Nope, just me and a 50 is all I need to cover a full show. Bringing the audience and surroundings in to the image gives the viewer a better sense of what it was like to be there.

Audience Participation is always fun…

Mark Summerlin was rocking last night…

The friendliest, most cheerful guy I know…Steve (Sid) always has a blast when he he hams it up for me while playing.

A happy fan snaps a shot of Seal…

After the show Seal always meets with the fans.

Some NEX-5 Shots with the Leica Summicron 50, all at f2

Ok, so some of you asked for me to shoot the NEX, with Leica glass at a Seal show. I admit, I BARELY used it and of the 20-30 shots I took, I really only liked 2-3. Here they are…

The NEX does great at high ISO as well though the files are not nearly as “Robust” as the M9 files. Also, these did not look nearly as good in B&W as the ones from the M9. Why is that?

The rich color from the NEX-5 even at ISO 1600

Focus was hit or miss with the all manual Leica lens. Using the LCD magnification would have solved that but man, it’s a slow process during a live performance that would lead to many missed shots. I can focus 5X as fast (and with 98% accuracy) with the M9 as I can manually with the NEX/Leica combo. Also, with the NEX sensor, there seems to be less “WOW” than with the M9 sensor…

Thoughts on the NEX-5 and Leica combo

The NEX and Leica combo can give better color and image quality over the two Kit lenses that Sony offer BUT spending the big bucks on Leica glass for your NEX will not get you into Leica territory when it comes to flat out IQ. It’s slower to focus than an M, has less sharp and dynamic files than an M, and in all honesty, the M9 does just as good as ISO 2500 as the NEX does in the same range. Still, for $600 the NEX is a little powerhouse that is one of the coolest buys at the moment (still) for those not wanting the bulk of a DSLR and for those who do not want to spend the big bucks on Leica.

Still, I can’t see myself going out with the NEX and Leica glass when I own an M9. If I did not own an M9, I do not think I would spend $2-$3000 on a Leica lens to use with my NEX camera. I’d probably go for a Zeiss 50 Sonnar in the $1000 range instead.

I’ve written several times about this little NEX but I still enjoy it. Also, don’t forget J-Tec! They offer some unique accessories for your NEX and they are a site sponsor!

Where to next?

We are leaving Cape Town in a few hours and heading to Switzerland for 3-4 days before heading home. I will try to shoot the NEX more with the Noctilux in the next few days. Also, the Matterhorn mountain is calling my name..should be fun. Stay tuned!



Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Also, the new


Mar 312011

As always, the Leica M9 has been by my side for the past 3 weeks and right this minute I am at the Venue in Mexico City where Seal will be performing his 2nd show here in about 2 hours. I’m blogging because they have a WiFi connection available so why not? :) I shot the show last night here in Mexico City and it was yet another high energy show. I will put up some of those images tomorrow after tonights show and mix them together.

Tomorrow afternoon I go back home to AZ and will have one week off before heading to South Africa for a few days. Lots of exciting things going on, and so many photo opps that I have been on photo overload! I love it!

This morning a few of us went out to get some shots on the street but we ended up having a great lunch instead. I managed to get in a few shots before getting on the van to the show.

While away on this tour I have been in “Photographer” mode instead of “Testing” mode so the change of pace has been good for me. Getting out and being able to take actual photographs instead of silly test shots has re-activated some passion inside of me, and it’s been great fun.

All shots below with the the Leica M9 and 50 Summicron

My new buds, Chris and Steve shooting on the streets of Mexico City…

I managed to capture this couple sharing a hug. He saw me but gave me a smile after I took the shot..

Seal street shooting with his Titanium M7

Mike the Bad Ass security guy with Seal while we waited for the restaurant to open up…

I thought I focused on the food but somehow missed it :) The food was AMAZINGLY gorgeous and tasty :)

After I made it to soundcheck the band wanted some shots of them but they decided to have fun with it. This is the last show of this short tour so everyone is in high spirits…The four shots below were all with the 28 Elmarit at 2.8, which seems like it was made for the M9.

At soundcheck just minutes ago..the band switched instruments to take this shot.

From left to right: Mark Summerlin, Marcus Brown, Gus Isidore, and Steve Sidelnyk

Katie, Sarah and Georgina

Carol Jarvis – Master Drummer, faces and all…

The final South American Tour Report will be up tomorrow night, or at the latest Saturday. Then back to normal business for a week with guest reports and reviews. It will be good to get home tomorrow :) I have to say that the Leica M9 performed FLAWLESSLY for me during daily use on this three week tour. It withstood the bangs, the abuse, the humidity, and even some rain. To the naysayers, yes…the M9 can be used as a pro camera. Period.

I’ll leave you with one shot from last nights show…LOVE the color and the vibe in this one. It’s as if all of the Energy is coming out of Seal and exploding into the crowd…shot with the 35 cron at f/2.

Mar 282011

The South American Seal tour is winding down with only two shows left in Mexico City, Mexico. To some extent this is exciting to me. Shooting the last two shows of this short tour should provide some amazing images. The energy and excitement should be there 100%. The band feels it and I am sure Seal feels it as well. Also, with the anticipation of everyone going back home to their families and friends as well as the comfort of their own home for a little while adds to the excitement.

As you are reading this I am on a 8 hour flight heading to Mexico City, Mexico. I wrote this last night and scheduled it to post today. I knew I would have a long day of travel as we fly in to Miami, FL first and then from there we go on to Mexico City. After the drive to the hotel we are looking at a 13 hour travel day. I’ll try to sleep on the plane as much as I can so it goes by quickly.

Last nights show Recife was a fantastic show, though for me, as a photographer, the venue was a bit odd. Was very hard for me to get in position to shoot and with only a 28, 35 and 50 available to me last night getting tight close shots was tough.

But even with that I persevered and tried a few things differently…

Here are the shots from Recife Brazil! AMAZING AMAZING passionate crowd last night! EVERY image except the 1st were shot with the M9 and Noctilux. This lens continues to blow me away with what it can do in almost any light situation. The 1st was shot with the 35 Summicron ASPH. Enjoy!

BTW, all of the tour shots can also be seen at Also, if you are in Mexico City, MX come to the show! It’s a great time and worth the price of admission. If you are there and see me, say HEY! Last night in Recife I met two people who are readers of this blog. Very cool!



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