Sunday, March 24, 2013

The lights went out and we all started to shine

Shine your flashlight
For a spring evening in Texas it was cold, and granted there were a lot of events happening on Saturday night, along with the NCAA March Madness, but some of us had to come to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and shine a light on the world's largest indoor stadium.

A year ago when they started planning the event co-founders Bill Dubois and Michael Peres had hoped to have 20,000 and set a Guinness Book record for number of people participating in a photograph, (and then Guinness World Records rejected the category) but the 27th BigShot by the photo students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York had to work with  2400 volunteers to light the building on a cold foggy, more Rochester like weather, on Saturday, March 23rd 2013.

Some of us came with shoe-mount strobes, but many simply brought flashlights. Then there was the guy from Dallas ("nakedlens" is his name) who had a backpack fitted with four studio strobes that he fired with the shoe-mount flash he pointed behind him. Who needs 2000 volunteers when one guy can do it? I'm not sure the folks at RIT let him shine.
NakedLens brought lots of light 

Signing in we got assigned to various groups setting up along the southeast corner of Cowboy Stadium. I was assigned to Lighting Team 7B at the far right under one of the two big support girders. Other people were assigned to the parking lot along side the stadium, all around the roadway and even back in the distant parking lot where the elevated camera took four shots.

Wanting to control all the light they asked Cowboy Stadium to turn off ALL the lights inside the building and outside in the parking lot. The moon could be seen poking out every once in awhile behind cloud cover, so it was dark and all those little flash lights don't put out much light. But they said it "looks good."

RIT students flew down Friday morning were also stationed 25 feet apart with their digital cameras around the service road saying that they plan on stitching all the images together to make a super panorama. They got a tour on Friday and one student showed me a neat app he has on his iPhone that let him create and scroll around 360-degree view he took in seconds during the tour.

Using the siren on an emergency rescue van, they opened the shutter for about a minute, with my shoe-mount flash and fresh batteries I was able to fire off two times and once using the flash on my Olympus Pen camera. Folks with flashlights were told to keep moving and move the light around.

I wonder what the picture will look like? They say we can download a file after April 15, 2013 from

RIT called it "painting with light" and the faculty members coordinating the event said the stadium size and glass exterior  posed the biggest challenges for the annual project since they started in 1987. They have previously lit up the Alamo, the USS Intrepid, the Pile Gate in Croatia and the Smithsonian National Museum of Native Americans in Washington D.C.

Cowboy Stadium will host the NCAA Final Four in 2014 and maybe the RIT photo will help everyone know where they are going. # # #

Monday, March 18, 2013

Big Shot from Alamo to Cowboy Stadium

Cowboy Stadium by JG Domke
They were hoping to set the Guinness Book of Records with over 20,000 people standing around the Cowboys Stadium. largest indoor stadium in the world, located between Dallas and Ft Worth, Texas.

With articles appearing in newspapers and on television, the Rochester Institute of  Technology say they need people to sign-in by Monday, March 18th at

Hoping for thousands to come with flashlights or using the flash on a camera, RIT's School of Photographic Arts and Science will hold their annual "paint with light" on Saturday ! (March 23 at 7:30 p.m.)!

Early sign-up helps RIT's assign and organize groups to spread out to light the entire stadium. I wonder how they will light the dome with everyone standing in the parking lot? Or will this be a team effort in cooperation with light from the moon?

This started over 25 years ago as a student exercise to master flash, inspired by a publicity campaign by the flashbulb maker Sylvania to come up with an original image using the flashbulb. But this reminds me of an exercise I did at the University of Missouri J-School where we photographed the brightly illuminated "columns" with the administration building in the background. 

The assignment called for taking one exposure and developing the 4x5 sheet film normally, which just showed the columns, then develop another sheet using a water bath to let the developer bring out shadow detail. What do you know? There, in the background, was Jesse Hall. You could see it, where there was nothing but black darkness before. Amazing.

So I wonder with everyone pointing their FLASHLIGHT at Cowboy Stadium is it the light really doing anything, or the way they expose and process the image? I sort of see this as publicity for RIT and with only light  from flashes in the parking lot it isn't going to light the roof.

Where we used the water bath during the development of film, I wonder if they are using film or is this digital? If it is digital I'm guessing they can take several exposures at different exposures and then weave them together. What they call High Definition! This way we'll see all of the stadium!

What's the flashlight adding to the photo? Is the goal to get a great photo, or simply to have something in the foreground?

Still I'm looking forward to shining my light and help make it a great photo. See you there!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Looking for spring

Looking for the news is in my blood, and making a trip to Florida to take membership portraits I see a story. The red tide, started in September 2012 and is still killing fish and polluting the shores in Florida and Texas. I end up posting a story on this invasion of harmful algal bloom.

Some people speculate it has to do with global warming, because it has lasted so long and sread out so far, but the Fort Myers News-Press reports that it's simply a natural event.