RIT’s nighttime community photo project takes focus on Kodak Tower

Iconic headquarters building will be the subject of RIT’s 32nd Big Shot on Sept. 18

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RIT Big Shot Team

RIT Big Shot No. 32 is scheduled rain or shine for Sept. 18, 2016, when the photography team will point its lenses at Kodak Tower in Rochester.

A Rochester, N.Y., company whose name is synonymous with pictures worldwide will be the focus of Rochester Institute of Technology’s 32nd Big Shot. The community photography project will capture a dramatic nighttime image of Kodak Tower, the longtime home of Eastman Kodak Co., on Sunday, Sept. 18.

The Big Shot, often described as “painting with light,” relies on the participation of volunteers 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.

Kodak Tower, long recognized as a landmark in the Rochester skyline and an icon in the world of photography, is a 19-story skyscraper. Completed in 1914, it stood as the city’s tallest building for more than 50 years and has been called the “nerve center of photography.”

“The Kodak Tower was selected as our next subject because in many ways it epitomizes Rochester, the explosion of photography into the world, and the vital role Kodak played,” said Michael Peres, associate chair of the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences and one of the Big Shot organizers. “It is a recognizable landmark in the Rochester skyline and will be photographed in a way it has never been during its over 100 years on State Street. What an amazing opportunity for RIT. We are very excited.”

Peres added that the photograph will be created using a number of both traditional and digital technologies.

“We’ll once again use a Nikon D810 digital camera to record the photograph,” he said. “We will also employ a large format film camera and record the exposure using color negative film before making the exposure using a dry plate emulsion and large format cameras. This emulsion will be similar to what George Eastman sold in the dry plate days.”

Peres added that he and the photo team of Willie Osterman, Christye Sisson, Dan Hughes, Eric Kunsman, Therese Mulligan, Mike Dear, Ron Goldberg and Debbie Kingsbury—joined for the first time by Clay Patrick McBride—will employ film processes dating back to the 1850s.

“It’s called a wet process,” Peres said. “Using film in this way has never been done before.”

While there are four months of logistics in front of him, Peres said he can’t wait for the night of the next Big Shot.

“I really like the vantage point and I am excited to make this picture,” he said. “A very different photograph than any of the more recent subjects.”

“We invite all of Rochester and everyone to come out with their flashlights and be part of something they will never forget,” Peres added.

The public will join RIT students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as current and former Kodak employees for the photo, which will be taken soon after sunset on Sept. 18—around 8 p.m.—regardless of weather conditions. Volunteers are asked to arrive no later than 7:30 p.m., bring either a flashlight or a camera flash unit, and wear dark clothing. Volunteers will be broken into lighting teams and placed near the Kodak building by RIT organizers before test photos are taken and the final photo is captured.

Since RIT started its Big Shot project in 1987, the event has traveled to several national landmarks and twice crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Through their viewfinders, Big Shot photographers have captured such landmarks as Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas; The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas; the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York City; Pile Gate in Dubrovnik, Croatia; the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden; and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Nikon Inc., a longtime sponsor of the Big Shot, will be the event’s premier sponsor.

“Nikon Professional Services (NPS) is proud to again be a sponsor of RIT Big Shot No. 32,” said Kristine Bosworth, manager of NPS Campus and Education Markets. “This will be the 10th year that NPS and RIT have partnered to bring this light painting project to life. Each year we look to use the latest Nikon technology to create an image that is beyond our expectations. NPS truly values the collaboration and efforts needed to involve the students, alumni and public participants of each Big Shot.”

In addition to Kodak, additional sponsors include Profoto, which will provide specialized lighting equipment—including powerful battery-operated electronic flash systems—the City of Rochester, and Asset One LLC in Rochester.

To learn more about the project and view photographs of past Big Shot images, go to https://www.facebook.com/RITBigShot or http://bigshot.cias.rit.edu/. The project also can be followed on Twitter at @RITBigShot.