Big Shot team makes final preparations to light up Cowboys Stadium Saturday night

Organizers finalizing approach to create nighttime photograph of home of the Dallas Cowboys

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RIT Big Shot photo team

Organizers of RIT’s 28th Big Shot are putting the finishing touches on preparations for what could be one of the most technically challenging nighttime community photography projects: Cowboys Stadium.

Organizers of RIT’s 28th Big Shot are putting the finishing touches on preparations for what could be one of the most technically challenging nighttime community photography projects the team has encountered since its first year in 1987.

The technical hurdles stem from producing a nighttime photograph of a landmark the size of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. At a cost of $1.15 billion when it was built in 2009, the stadium covers 3 million square feet and features the world’s longest single-span roof structure.

Since arriving in Dallas a few days ago, the RIT team of Bill DuBois, Michael Peres, Dawn Tower DuBois and Willie Osterman has visited the stadium several times to discuss strategy to illuminate and photograph the largest domed stadium in the world.

“This is both a massive undertaking and an amazing opportunity for RIT, given the sheer size of this spectacular landmark,” says Bill DuBois, professor emeritus in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. “We can’t wait to capture the beauty of the architectural nuances of Cowboys Stadium—from its domed roof to the glass façade. We’re going to need everyone who can to come out tomorrow night and help us light it up.”

DuBois explains that since the stadium is located in an open area he is employing the use of a scissor lift to perch himself and other team members high above the expected crowds to improve their vantage point for the photo.

The weather forecast for Saturday is calling for changeable skies and a high temperature of 64 degrees, with a low of 42. There’s a 30 percent chance of rain and winds will be out of the north at 8 miles per hour with occasional wind gusts.

The Big Shot relies on hundreds of participants to provide the primary light source for the image, while RIT photographers shoot an extended exposure. It’s a signature event for RIT and is led by the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, which is nationally recognized for its degree programs.

The Big Shot is often described as “painting with light” because participants are asked to “paint” or shine their light source onto a particular area of the landmark while the photograph is taken. The light sources are either handheld flashlights or camera flash units. Hundreds if not thousands of volunteers are expected to come to participate and “paint” the exterior Saturday night. Area residents will join RIT students, faculty, staff and alumni as the photo will be taken after sunset Saturday, around 8:30 p.m., rain or shine.

The Big Shot project has traversed to several national landmarks and twice crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Through their viewfinders, Big Shot photographers have captured such landmarks as The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas; the U.S.S. Intrepid, New York City; Pile Gate, Dubrovnik, Croatia; the Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden; and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

This year, 15 to 20 videographers from Nikon Professional Services will shoot either still pictures or video and capture sound of the Big Shot. Their goal is to create a documentary about how a Big Shot comes together. Nikon Inc. has been a longtime sponsor of the event.

New this year, students and faculty from the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science will be making an image of their own in connection with the project by producing a three-dimensional reconstruction of the stadium as participants paint the exterior with light. This will allow viewers to do a virtual walk around the area in which the Big Shot is produced.

RIT is selling Big Shot T-shirts and hats at The registration site for the general public, who may still register, is Walk-ons also will be accepted.

RIT also has a Facebook page (“like” RIT the Big Shot) and a Twitter handle (@RITBigShot) for the event.