Seal Tour Report – Shows 4 and 5 rock on in Brazil!

Just wrapped up shooting the 5th show on Seals South American tour in Belo Horizonte Brazil and it was a WILD one! The crowds seem to be getting wilder and wilder and tonight was the most amazing crowd yet in BH. Rio was fantastic as well, though these two shows were the most challenging to shoot yet.  I came away with 4 or 5 I really like regardless.

But yea, the crowds were intense!  As usual, I managed to get some very cool shots with just the big honkin’ zoom of course though I did see many in the crowd sporting 5 and 7D’s with huge zooms.

I’m sitting in my room now in Belo Horizonte and leave here in 2 hours to head back to Rio for two days so maybe I will enjoy the beach or Sugarloaf mountain. Lots to do in Rio, especially when your hotel is right on the Copacabana Beach!

I’m posting both nights here and the camera and lenses used were the M9, 50 Noct and 35 Summicron. Those two along with the 28 Elmarit cover just about all I need but it would be cool to have a 21 and 75 Lux with the 50 Noct….wow.

Be sure and visit the Leica dealers who sponsor my site if you are interested in some gear 🙂 – B&H Photo, Dale Photo and Ken Hansen!

Rio Brazil – Saturday March 19th 2011

I always go for a soundcheck shot to test the lenses, exposure, colors, etc…

The set list is displayed…

Steve (Syd) Sydelnik prepares for the show minutes before showtime…

and the Rio show begins with “If I’m Any Closer”!

Flying to Belo Horizonte – March 20th 2011

Just a few snaps from the airport in Rio…

Seal and Mark waiting to board the plane for the one hour flight from Rio to Belo Horizonte

This little girl kept looking at me and smiling because she saw that I had a camera. I snapped this one and she was excited that I did. Very cute. To the left is Steve Brumbach, the tour manager.

just a shot from the van window on the way to the hotel

Belo Horizonte – March 20th 2011

The road crew sets up the stage…


Seals Manager, Rick Salmon looks on from off stage

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  1. Wonderful set, and B&W of the smiling girl raising her arms out of the mosh pit is pure magic!

  2. If you didn’t mind the constant travel, I think it is clear you could make a ridiculously good living as a professional tour photographer with numerous bands/artists.

    I really love these shots on tour – they are pics I will never be able to take 🙂 As was said in the past by ~6, it is all in the ‘anticipation’… you see the capture very early. Love it.

  3. Great images – as always!

    Glad to see that Seal is still singing “Killer”. That’s probably the only song I really like – I also remember that when it came out, he was called Adamski. I guess that the name Seal has better appeal.

  4. The last half were very nice! Very “rock club” like!! Was it a small venue or just a different (higher) vantage point for you to shoot from?

  5. Nice work Steve! I was at the concert of Seal in Belo Horizonte and saw you in action! Congratulations! Great singer and great photographer!
    I have a Nikon D300S and would like to further explore its resources. I’ll read your reviews and if there is any doubt I hope I can count on your help. Hugs Roosevelt

  6. These are definitely the best pictures from the tour so far – you are obviously settling into the groove of being a rock photographer and enjoying the experience immensely.
    I was interested to see Seal using a Ricoh GXR, and wondered how he is getting on with the camera – no doubt a change from his titanium M9 (I love my GXR and the two A12 camera units). A very cool guy and have always been impressed with his music and his general demeanor towards fans and the media. Hope his tour is a brilliant success, and best wishes to you, Steve.

  7. Steve:

    I love the work you are doing on this tour. Really brilliant photos!

    Please forgive me, but I would like to make a few comments with regard to your camera and lens choice. In my opinion the use of medium to wide lenses in concert photography can be considered limiting to most photographers in this field for obvious reasons. But as I see it that limitation is actually a great advantage, because it forces the photographer to come physically close to the subject and therefore the viewer of your images gains an intimate perspective that is impossible to see for the average concert goer. Furthermore the compact size and quietness of a camera such as the digital Leica allows the skillful photographer to be very discreet and this discretion is what enables the capturing of the artists off-stage, when they are just being themselves and not wearing the mask of the performer.

    By profession I am a comedian/magician (as well as a vaudeville historian) and in the past few years I have been documenting the on and off stage lives of my fellow entertainers. I would not be able to capture what I see as the face of humanity, were it not for the fact that my camera is small, quiet, fast and wide. In my case I used the Ricoh GRD2 and GRD3 in full manual mode and I have only had the pleasure of holding a Leica M9 once in my life, but I think I know where you are coming from in your current photo project.

    If you are still looking for a different perspective to shoot from, I would like to offer a small suggestion. I don’t know your limitations when it comes to the bandstand and where you can position yourself without disturbing the performance. But interesting images can be created from the direct backstage view. I offer the following image as an example which I shot with a Ricoh GRD2 (f/2.4, 28mm, 1/30, ISO 400, RAW) a while back. In my case the camera was nearly on the stage floor and the lens was pushed through a hole in the stage curtain. The trick is in waiting for the performer to intersect between the camera lens and followspot, before you trip the shutter.

    See here:

    With regard to Seal Samuel, looking at these photographs on your site reminded me of how much I loved his music in the past and before I embarked on my current tour, I took the first four “Seal” CDs from home and put the tracks on my iPod and I am now rediscovering why I loved his music in the first place. When I get a chance I will pick up CDs of his recent projects with David Foster and give them a listen.

    Peace be upon you all, stay safe on the road and have a great time on the rest of the tour,

    P.S. Your Noctilux photo from the first of this series of Mr. Samuel’s left hand primarily in focus is blowing my mind.

    • Lavant, I like your post and I looked at your Flickr site and found some terrific pictures there. Left a few comments, too. Wow, that little Ricoh camera is really impressive (in good hands, of course, such as in your case!) Now, thanks to Seal and you, I am becoming more and more puzzled about that Ricoh company… They sure seem to know what they are doing. I can’t wait until they release that M-module for GXR. I really want to give it a try as a little companion for my M9.

      Your Rockefeller Center pictures brought some nostalgic memories of my previous life of a businessman. I used to have an office there at One Rockefeller Plaza back in 1988-2000. The hours were long, the money was great but all together it just sucked… So, I dropped it all and went to India. Now I’m in Russia where I was born. But still, I have some warm memories of NYC. Thanks!

      I would also like to share some concert pictures of mine (mostly Indian dance stuff, as I just love the colours and movements of it):

      Greg Shanta

      • Thanks Greg!

        I appreciate your comments about my Flickr photos more than you can imagine. At the present time I am on a cruise ship at sea and the satellite internet connection is too slow to look at your photos. I will view your Flickr page when I get to an internet cafe in Nassau, Bahamas tomorrow. I used to go to “Leningrad’ a lot during the Soviet era. Back then I remember going to a camera store on Nevsky Prospeckt and the 35mm film was sold not in cartridges but in rolls and they had bags that allowed patrons to load and unload film in the cameras manually the old school way :). St. Petersburg is truly a beautiful city! I especially liked visiting the “Tikhvin Cemetery” and paying my respects to the great composers Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin and Mussorgsky as well as the writer Dostoevsky. My manager is still working it out, but is seems that I will probably be performing in Moscow next year and depending on my show schedule, I will try to do some street photography and visit the Leica store.

        With regard to my photography, I have been involved with video for over 20 years, but did very little still photography. But long ago I diligently studied the technical books written by the great Ansel Adams. So I knew about still photography in my head, but had little practical experience. I only started shooting still images about 5 years ago when I got a Casio EX-Z750 in anticipation of my performances in London. That tiny Casio shirt pocket camera allowed for full manual control of f-Stop, Shutter Speed, ISO and focus. The manual control allowed me to apply what I learned in the old photography books, but I was driven crazy by the menu system of the Casio which made it hard to change the settings quickly. Later a comedian friend of mine lent me his Nikon D70 DSLR and I liked the fast exposure controls, but I hated the large size of DSLR camera and the noisy mirror clack. I wanted a high quality camera, but because I didn’t have the discipline to lug a big DSLR, I required something small that would enable me to have a camera within my reach at all times. The only caveat was that I needed the fast exposure controls of a DSLR. I looked at all the high quality compact cameras available at the time and made a serious study of them and their manual control User Interface. I discovered to my shock that the only pocket camera with a UI close to that of a DSLR was from this little known camera company called Ricoh. I took a gamble and bought the then new GRD2 and loved that camera from the first moment I turned it on. After a year, the Ricoh GRD3 came out so I sold my GRD2 and bought the newer Ricoh, because I often shoot in very low light I felt I needed the faster lens and better sensor. Since that time, I have noticed that a few more pocket cameras with a decent manual control UI have appeared on the scene. Of those the one I liked the most was the Leica X1, but my only criticism with it is that I wish the Shutter Speed and f-Stop dials had more of a solid click to them as they seem to be pretty loose to me. What I have read about the new Fuji X100 sounds terrific and would love to hold one in my hands.

        Getting back to my situation. After a couple of years with the Ricoh I feel that I have pretty much mastered the use of a tiny sensor camera with a wide lens, but I have no experience with shallow depth of field and I would like to experiment with different focal lengths (other than the 28mm and 21mm of the GRD3).

        The Leica M9 is more than I want to spend for a camera. A used M8 is a possibility, but at the present time I think I am a better candidate for a mirrorless system camera. The only camera I currently own is a GRD3 and I have no other lenses so I am not married to any legacy system.

        Last October I was performing at a casino hotel in Atlantic City and on my day off I went to New York to attend the PhotoPlus Expo. I spent the whole time handling every mirrorless available and I hated the manual control UI of ALL the Samsung, Sony, Olympus & Panasonic cameras. I did however try what I think was an Olympus PEN with a Zeiss prime attached, which was very cool because it that case the Olympus body only had to deal with shutter speed and ISO and the beautiful manual Zeiss was left to control aperture and focus via the lens rings. Needless to say I loved the GXR I handled, probably because I am used to the GRD.

        With regard to depth of field. The smaller sensor of the Micro 4/3 limits the shallowness of the depth of field. So I had considered getting a m4/3rds camera with a CV Nokton f/.95 lens, based on my guess that it would roughly give me Bokeh of a 50mm f/1.8 lens on a full frame? But now that Ricoh announced the m-mount, I have dropped that idea and instead will probably get a Ricoh GXR and the m-mount and get some manual primes. I considered the Ricoh 50mm APS-C unit, but in my gut, I feel that the lens is not fast enough for me. In any case, I am not making any purchases until Nikon announces what their so-called “Professional Mirrorless” camera system will be? If the new Nikon uses a sensor that is smaller than a m4/3rd, then as soon as possible I will get the GXR with the cheap “kit zoom” to play with for a while and then invest in serious primes when Ricoh makes the m-mount adaptor this fall.

        I would like to make one more commentary about Steve Huff’s excellent concert photos. What Steve is doing here is physically exhausting as he is in constant motion trying to capture the “decisive moment.” When I’ve been in a similar situation, I’ve been drenched in sweat by the time the show is over. In addition to the physical aspect, this type of concert photography is mentally exhausting as Steve is fighting to compose while balancing exposure, DOF and focus while the subject is moving and the lighting conditions are changing from moment to moment. For instance when you are shooting a vocalist from a low angle, the robotic overhead lights are continually changing in brightness, color, direction and shape. Often these robotic lights can make or break the shot as they affect the overall composition and they are one of a dozen variables that Steve has to deal with in real time. More power to him!

        Best regards,

  8. I started watching these tour updates while listening to Seal songs 🙂 Great pics, enjoy the trip!

  9. Hi Steve,

    It sounds like you’re having a blast. I like this set of photos. Quite nice. How is the humidity when you’re photographing during the concerts? This one was indoors so they probably had air conditioning, but did you have to shoot in heat & humidity? that can be hard on the body. Also can be hard on digital gear. Take lots of photos of your surroundings. It seems like a once in a lifetime experience!

  10. Great stuff again Steve! I wonder if your photos will encourage some concert photos to use an M9? Your photos definitely stand out from alot of other concert photos.

  11. Hi Steve,
    All the pictures are really incredible!
    I’m Brazilian so if you want some help with portuguese phrases to use in your trip I’m here! =)

  12. These pictures are so beautiful and amazing that I am embarrassed to touch my camera. Wonderful job. Hope you get some rest. Best wishes, Steve.

  13. the pics are getting better and better!!!

    PS: Steve, try a mock-shoot when you have just 1st 3 songs of the show to get enough pictures for a report which is the usual model if you’re shooting for some minor magazines (/e-zines) – adds the adrenaline aspect to it quite a bit 🙂

  14. Steve,
    Lots of good shots here with the Leica M9. You are a terrific photographer. I’d love to see what you could do at your concerts with a Canon 5D or 7D using a Canon lens like a 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens. It’s heavy and will wear you out after a few hours but you’ll get some great photos out of it. My hat is off to you. I have an M8.2 and the longest lens that I have is a Leica 90mm f/2.8 and think that shooting a concert would be out of the question for me. Good shooting.

  15. Steve, I know you’re working really hard, but…seriously, stop making it look so easy! These are just excellent. So far above what I could accomplish, but it gives me motivation to keep improving. Nicely done!

  16. Steve
    These ate def the best set from the tour.
    We get a real sense of the whole tour from these images….. Bet seal is V.Pleased
    All the best

  17. Hi Steve,

    Wonderful photographs as usual 🙂
    I especially like the second one in black and white (the one with the girl with extended arms admiring Seal).


    Jan Martijn

  18. Great photos Steve. The BW photo, (317), of the girl with are arms outstretched to ~6 was incredible, and when I scrolled down to the next photo, (329), of ~6 with his necklace floating, I was totally blown away. The undeniable energy and feeling in this set make them the best concert photos I have ever seen!


  19. Hi Steve,
    exciting to be part of your trip through all these amazing photos. Looking forward to more shows.

    A question: how do you set your WB on the M9 with all these different colored lights?

    Have a good time at the beach!

    • Believe it or not I use Auto White Balance and it is so crazy because every image will have a different cast. I’ve tried all settings as well as manual but with all of the lights changing every second it’s tough. Luckily, using AWB the M9 nails it most of the time.

    • Thank you. I move all over when shooting a show like this. These last two, RIo and Belo Horizonte were challenging as I could not get to the front where Seal stands for most of the show. The crowd was packed in and I was not about to squeeze my way past everyone so I could get a premo position 🙂 Instead I just went anywhere I could frame a shot. There was a photo pit but when standing there Seals back is to my camera so not the best spot. Seeing that I do not use a DSLR and massive zoom it makes it challenging, but I like it. It sparks the brain up more and forces me to think outside the box.

      One photo where this worked out well was with the very 1st shot on this page, the one used for the title of this post. It was shot from behind the drums, a place I have not ventured to before but I did because the front center was not an option.

      Only 5 more shows to go on this tour!

      • Steve, this set is just as good as the previous ones despite all the trouble you mention! I’ve shot some concerts previously and I know just how difficult it is when your longest lens is a 50mm! You really nailed it, mate!

        My favourites are the title shot and the one where Seal is shot from the back, spreading his arms, and is lit from the front with a green light. I love the colours and textures in that picture and also the way Seal is lit. The last shot in the series is also very powerful. And the one from the van is very nice, too. Belo horizonte, indeed!


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