N.Y. photography students to take Big Shot of Cowboys Stadium on Saturday

Posted Monday, Mar. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- It's a project that might excite photography buffs, Guinness World Record seekers and people who just can't get enough of Cowboys Stadium.

Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Photographic Arts and Sciences will set up its annual Big Shot light-painting event at the massive venue Saturday night. Organizers hope to draw at least 5,000 volunteers willing to shine a flashlight or camera flash while an extended-exposure image of the stadium is captured.

The Big Shot, in its 28th year, has captured similar images at the Alamo, the USS Intrepid in New York, the Royal Palace in Stockholm, the Pile Gate in Croatia and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Participants can register at www.rit.edu/bigshot. In exchange for about two hours of their time, they will receive a link to the finished product.

"The deadline to register is being extended right up until the photo is made," said Bill DuBois, a professor emeritus at RIT who came up with the idea for the Big Shot with colleague Michael Peres in 1987. "Anyone wanting to participate should just come out."

Organizers are in negotiations with Guinness to create a category for most people involved in a photograph.

While reviewing the 1986-87 school year, Dubois and Peres decided that a light-painting project might be a good way to teach electronic flash photography and problem-solving skills to second-year biomedical photography students.

The idea for the Big Shot was inspired by a marketing program by Sylvania Corp. of the same name in the 1950s. At various landmarks, the Sylvania project wired thousands of bulbs together and triggered them at once, causing an explosion of light.

The stadium poses special obstacles to capturing this kind of shot, DuBois said.

"When we select a subject for the Big Shot, we are looking for a structure or space that has challenges that we have not encountered before," he said. "The biggest challenge for this year is the glass skin on the stadium. Our lighting plan calls for all of the people assigned to Parking Lot 5 to light the concrete parking surface. If that is brightly lit, it will reflect in the windows, causing them to glow. If the volunteers, painting with flashlights or camera flashes, aim their lights at the glass, it will just have bright spots of light coming back to the camera."

The size is also a challenge, DuBois said. "We need teams of lighting volunteers, between 50 to 2,500 people each, to cover the details of the stadium. The resulting photograph will present a glowing stadium, a totally unique image."

RIT students have raised more than $50,000 to pay for their travel, DuBois said. Faculty and staff members and Big Shot alumni will also make the trip.

"The event is family-friendly and is truly a team-building experience," he said. "All stadium and street lights will be turned off. The lighting volunteers alone will be responsible for how well that part of the building is illuminated. When they see the resulting photograph, they will recognize their accomplishment. With this image being made available to the world, they will have pride in their part in making it happen."

Patrick M. Walker,


Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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