Steve Martin/Steep Canyon Rangers: Time Constraints (Part 1)

Last Thursday night, I had a photo pass to the Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers concert at the Bergen Performing Arts Center. This week, I’m writing all about it. This is the first part.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

The typical limitations on concert photography are (1) no flash and (2) three songs.

The second part can be changed at a moment’s notice. Some bands — or their manager — have bad nights and take it out on the photographers, pulling them out after just one song. Or if it’s a festival atmosphere, a bad crowd might necessitate clearing the pit quickly. For jam bands whose songs might last 20 minutes apiece, the restriction might be 15 minutes. But three songs is the norm.

That worried me initially because the Steep Canyon Rangers’ latest album, “Rare Bird Alert,” is more than half-filled with songs under three minutes. They’re short snippets of bluegrass that could have seen me leaving the theater in less than ten minutes.

Thankfully, Steve Martin takes time between each song to talk, at least in the first three or four songs. And he’s funny, so that’s entertaining. (I have no memory for that kind of thing, so I won’t attempt to repeat the lines. I’d mess them up somehow. But when he checked his email on his banjo, I laughed.)

Still, the timestamp on my first picture was 8:14:37. The last picture I took, just as the fourth song began, was 8:32:09. So, roughly 18 minutes.

To a degree, I can’t complain. It wasn’t like I was in a photo pit running around working the angles. I was fairly stationary fairly far back in the theater. I had one or two minor variations in angle. I could have shot pictures for an hour and probably still gotten the same dozen looks as I got in the first fifteen minutes.

Granted, I’d have been more than happy to play with my camera settings and retry nailing that one great shot, but beggars and choosers, you know?

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