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

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!

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  1. I agree on Silver Efex Pro 2. It’s very good. Works great in Aperture. Also check out the great app, Snapseed if you have an iPad. A lot of fun when on the go.

  2. Love the B&W images, Steve. You did a great job here. I’m going to check out Silver Efex. I currently use Alien, and love it too. Also, there’s Photoshop. 🙂

  3. Fantastic images steve. Really gritty and full of energy and life, makes me want to be there. The last shot of seal in the taxi is awesome as the final shot in the series. The look in his face, as if to say “woah, that was amazing and shattering”. Great job steve.

  4. M9 comes closer to film than any other digital. Still, digital sucks compared to film.

    Amazing shots.


  5. I really do like the color shots, but these are timeless and powerful. It seems that every one of them worked extremely well. Great shots of the crowd, especially the ones near the fence.

    That last shot of Seal in the car just shows that you have total access to him as a close friend. Yeah, for a big star to let you get that close in such a “raw” moment. Awesome.

    Thanks to you and Seal for sharing these moments with us.

  6. Stunning work, Steve, and quite different than your color work from the prior concerts. Truth be told, I think I like the color work better in comparison, but generally, I am a black and white guy, so I am a bit conflicted….this series is great, but at times, the grain, while creating a mood, can take away from the clarity of the images that you have achieved with your lovely set up.

    That being said, I love the cohesiveness of the set that you have presented here, and being a daytime concert, the B&W works really well to add mood to the images….I just miss all of those lovely concert colors….

  7. In my opinion this b&w experiment has really worked… some cracking images here and some really good b&w treatments.
    For example, I don’t think that last pic of Seal in the car would have had the same mood or impact in colour… but I love it in b&w!!
    Well done Steve… I hope you are having a really great time!
    Any feedback from ~6?… I’ll be more than surprised if he doesn’t love these.

  8. Fantastic work Steve! Love the Black and White. I also have been digging the silhouette shots you have taken during the tour so far. A lot of power.
    Keep of the great work!

  9. I’ve got to agree Slilver Effex pro II is so good. I’ve been using version 1 but recently also upgraded and its the nearest thing to film there is. The only downside is that you cant batch process.
    BTW AWESOME images.

    Steve would love to hear from you on what ISO your shooting these gigs at as this one of the few things stopping me shooting a complete wedding on the M9.

  10. I’ve got to agree Slilver Effex pro II is so good. I’ve been using version 1 but recently also upgraded and its the nearest thing to film there is. The only downside is that you cant batch process.
    BTW AWESOME images.

  11. Finally a BW concert series. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Like these a lot better than the color. Fantastic mood, perspective, etc.

  12. Great imagery, Steve. For me personally, I prefer b&w over color especially for jazz. I am currently changing my entire site to b&w as I agree with one photographer (I forget which one) said (and I paraphrase) if you photograph someone in color you photograph their clothes. If you photograph them in b&w, you photograph their soul.

    One question: as far as film grain, which film(s) did you select in Silver Efex for your images?

  13. Stunning images. The n°2 and 9 are simply awesome. And for people wondering, Silver Efex is a great piece of software. It can be a bit tricky at first, especially when one starts messin-up with the control points. But you can still do great things without too much hassle.

  14. As always, the best concert shots ever . .

    Steve, those photos are full of energy as you said , , i felt like i am standing in the crowd . .

    Among these best photos, i have the following shots that entered my soul . .



  15. Nice stuff!

    I like the B&W feel for the show. Good call on keeping the entire theme monochrome.

    I too have found Silver Efex Pro II to be a excellent conversion tool.

    Jim Marshall would be happy!

  16. Beautiful shots Steve, nice to see a whole set in B&W, reminds me of the 60s in a positive way. Really hope you’ll post a tutorial on Silver Efexs Pro sometime soon. I love it but you really know how to max it out.

  17. I love the back stage images. Reminds me of some Magnum shots. Also like the one of Seal’s silhouette on the left frame with the crowd to the right with their arms up. My eyes travel from the silhouette to the crowd and back. Nice captured moment. Bravo!

  18. C’est vrai, je trouve que le “grain” sur les photos B&W donne un apport supplémentaire d’émotion et une certaine mouvance aux images sans les rendre trop dramatiques. C’est aussi dù à l’ambiance euphorique du moment!!! Merci Steve.

  19. Have you ever noticed weird patterns developing in th sky areas when using silver efex 2? I’m getting them on some image and it’s making them unusable. I think it has something to do with the grain simulator…

  20. Brilliant!

    For me, this is the most powerful set I’ve seen from the concert. Period.

    I’d bet Seal loves it as well. 😉

    Awesome images, Steve.

    Thank you.

  21. I gained additional respect for you as a shooter. Great range of images. Thanks for posting and going b and w on these.

  22. Great shooting and cudos on your ability to stand back from what you are doing and take a fresh view and create a new presentation.

  23. The images themselves are superb Steve, and the B&W conversions are excellent! Some great emotion captured here.

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