Pre-Concert Night Jitters

Tomorrow night, I’ll be shooting my first concert with a photo pass. I’ve been hesitant towards saying anything here about it, for fear that it would fall through or that I’d jinx it somehow. (And, sure enough, I’ve been rejected on six other concerts I’ve inquired about, with two or three currently up in the air.)

The concert is from Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, a bluegrass band out of North Carolina who are, yes, touring with a skilled banjo player who happens to have hosted Saturday Night Live a number of times.

I sent an e-mail to the band’s management back in February to inquire about a photo pass and got added to the list right away. Talk about Beginner’s Luck!

Today, I got the bad news that I’ll be shooting from the soundboard. It’s the bane of concert photographers everywhere. Three songs (most of which are less than three minutes) and no flash? That we can handle. Shooting from the soundboard? Instant grumbling.

So I took a look at the seating chart for the venue, the Bergen PAC. Turns out the soundboard is about 28 rows back from the stage. What’s that? About 80 feet?

My longest lens is a 70-300mm Canon job. The good news is my Canon 60D is a crop sensor camera, so I get an effective 480 focal length. But it’s only f/5.6 at the long end. (And, doing the reciprocal law means I need to get a 1/500th shutter speed to guarantee frozen action. Never gonna happen. Instead, I’ll crush the high speed burst mode.) My 28mm f/1.8 is going to be useless except for maybe one “Back of the Heads of the Crowd and There’s The Tiny Stage” shot. My 85mm f/1.8 might be doable if I crop out half the picture.

Thank goodness I own a monopod. I can crank the ISO up to 4000, use manual mode, hope the stage is brightly lit, and pray for the best.

Yes, I could rent a 300mm f/2.8 lens from the local camera store tomorrow, but they run $120 a day. That’s not in the budget for this. I’d sooner go up to 6400 ISO, which I very well may have to. I’m starting to smell a black and white photo set when this is all said and done.

Stay tuned! We’ll see how it all turns out tomorrow night.

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