Hundreds turn out to capture Wallace on Ice for RIT Big Shot No. 34

Photo team takes first-ever interior image in signature project’s 35-year history

RIT Big Shot Team

More than 300 people came out to Frank Ritter Ice Arena on Saturday night, helping make Rochester Institute of Technology’s 34th Big Shot photograph a picturesque success.

The chance to capture an illuminated image of “Wallace on Ice” drew more than 300 people inside Frank Ritter Ice Arena Saturday night to help make Rochester Institute of Technology’s first-ever interior Big Shot photograph a resounding success.

RIT Big Shot No. 34 marked the return of one of the university’s signature events after more than three years due to the pandemic. Held without the support of corporate sponsors or the outside community at large, the photograph was instead a true RIT collaboration at the intersection of technology, the arts, and design.

More than 200 volunteers, including the Big Shot team, faculty, staff, and students provided the primary light source for the Big Shot image while a team of RIT photographers shot an extended exposure with the interior of Ritter Arena nearly completely darkened. Meanwhile, nearly 100 others, including College of Art and Design faculty, Wallace Center staff and administrators, librarians, and RITchie were featured in the final image along with members of the RIT Corner Crew, RIT Pep Band, and several players from the men’s and women’s hockey teams.

In the photograph, Kari Horowicz, the longtime College of Art and Design librarian who is retiring at the end of the semester, is seen “conducting” the Corner Crew.

“The excitement ran high with this being the first interior project the project has ever embarked upon,” said Dan Hughes, a lecturer in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) and one of the Big Shot’s co-organizers. “It’s truly breathtaking to see when hundreds of individuals work in unison to make a single photograph. It gives the scene life and personality.”

“The weeks of planning paid off as community members from all over RIT came together to create this once-in-a-lifetime image of our beloved Ritter Arena serving as the library, affectionately called ‘Wallace on Ice,’” added Eric Kunsman, an assistant professor for the visual communications studies department in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and an adjunct professor in SPAS.

Annie Schmitt, a second-year photographic sciences major from Queens, N.Y., said “as a photo student, I think the Big Shot is crucial to the RIT experience.”

“The Big Shot was definitely all I hoped it would be,” she exclaimed.

Ali Kayer, a fourth-year advertising photography student from Harrisburg, Pa., said she “jumped on the chance” to be part of Saturday’s Big Shot after taking part in the last event at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, N.Y., in late 2018. “I had a really great time at this Big Shot,” she said. “It was great getting to meet up and work with so many different photo students and faculty.”

Both Hughes and Kunsman said the event’s successful outcome despite a shortened timetable to prepare—six weeks instead of the usual months—would not have been possible without the tireless work by the staff of the Wallace Center, University Arenas and Facilities Management Services.

“We owe them a special thanks for going above and beyond to help us pull this together so successfully,” Hughes said.

In all, four cameras and lighting gear from the SPAS and NTID visual communication studies equipment cages were used to create a 160-degree angle-of-view final image. The full resolution of the Big Shot image is more than 160 megapixels, measuring 30.5”x 64.” This year’s final image was a one-minute exposure at f11 (ISO 100).

Michaela Mueller, a second-year visual media photography student from Clarkston, Mich., said the Big Shot “was a great way to see the photographic community at RIT come together.”

“I had the honor of lighting Kari, one of our beloved librarians at RIT,” she said. “It was a great experience for me and I’m so excited to participate in the years to come!”

The Wallace Center moved to Ritter Ice Arena for the duration of construction on the Student Hall for Exploration and Development, or “the SHED,” which will centralize the university’s makerspace and performing arts studios and theaters. Built in 1968, Ritter Arena was once home to the men’s and women’s hockey teams for their remarkable run in the early 2010s, including the men’s 2010 Frozen Four appearance and the women’s Division III national championship in 2012. It also has hosted concerts by U2, the Ramones, and Elvis Costello, among numerous additional performers.

The Big Shot often is described as “painting with light” because participants are asked to “paint” or shine their light source onto a particular area of a landmark while the photograph is taken. Participants were tasked with continuously “painting with light” their assigned areas inside the ice arena while RIT photographers shot an extended exposure. As is tradition, the photo team took four timed exposures before capturing the final image around 8:30 p.m.

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 landmarks in the United States such as Kodak Tower in Rochester, N.Y.; Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.; AT&T (formerly Cowboys) Stadium in Arlington, Texas; and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Internationally, the RIT team has captured Pile Gate in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.

RIT’s Big Shot event began as a way to teach students about flash photography. RIT’s photo school is internationally recognized for its degree programs. The photo and images of all Big Shot subjects are on the Big Shot website.