2,400 come out to Cowboys Stadium for RIT’s Big Shot of the year

Big Shot: a project by the RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences to teach students about flash photography that has been going since 1987. The idea: take a landmark, shoot a long-exposure of it in as close to total darkness as you can. But here’s the twist: use a bunch of volunteers to hold flashes and create their own brief illuminations of their own small parts of the landmark, to see what kind of result you get. This year, 40 students traveled to Dallas, Tx to shoot the Cowboys Stadium, the first time that stadium has been in complete darkness since it began operations.

Photography requires light to enter a lens and focus on the photo-making medium. In traditional photography, the light has to hit photosensitive film. In modern digital photography, it hits an electronic photosensor. Regardless of the medium, however, there is a minimum amount of light necessary to get the shot, which is determined by the size of the lens, the size of the recording medium and other factors.

You can get the required light by two means: by adding light in the form of some sort of photographic flash, or by holding the aperture of the camera open a very long time to allow more of the natural light in.

The old Brownie. Photo courtesy

Photo flashes – whether they’re the old school single-use flash bulbs or modern strobe lights, help fill in the required light and allow the photo to develop. But with such a large area as Cowboys Stadium, no one single flash would adequately light the whole scene. Big Shot’s objective is to fill in the scene with not one, but a huge number of individual strobes to create a lot more light. Add to that a long exposure time and you get amazing results.

Big Shot has done a lot of landmarks in the past, including the Alamo and the U.S.S. Intrepid. Last November, the project photos our own Seabreeze Amusement Park, a considerably more humble but very beautiful project.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.