High Falls, Rochester New York
February 9, 2014 – 7:10pm
19 degrees Fahrenheit

Camera – Nikon D800 with 24-70/f2.8 mm lens
Exposure time: 30 seconds @ f22 ISO 200

All external lighting was provided by more than 750 volunteer participants using hand-held electronic flash units, flashlights and Profoto electronic flash equipment. The RIT Big Shot is a nighttime community photographic project begun in 1987.

This how the scene looked before painting with light

RIT Video production click here
RIT Photo video produced by senior student videographer Dan Wang
Rochester channel 13 produced the following video, click here
Rochester channel 8 produced a video story, click here
Time Warner News also produced a video, click here

About this photograph
Snow and cold temperatures didn’t keep hundreds of people from descending on downtown Rochester to light up High Falls Sunday night and help make Rochester Institute of Technology’s 29th Big Shot photograph a wintertime success. 

More than 650 volunteers provided the primary light source for the Big Shot image while Big Shot photographers shot an extended exposure of one of Rochester’s natural and iconic spectacles.

This year’s final image is a 30-second exposure at f22 ISO 200.

This is a community art project and could not be done without the support of our sponsors and everyone who came out tonight to brave the snow and the cold temperatures. This photograph is a once-in-a-lifetime view of Rochester, N.Y. CSX Transportation, Inc. provided two new locomotives and a string of intermodal cars that filled out the length of the bridge for the photo. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based corporation also agreed to hold all rail traffic during the picture’s capture.

“CSX shares a long and rich history with the Greater Rochester area, and we are honored to continue that legacy by supporting the 2014 Big Shot,” said Robert Rohauer, manager of community affairs and safety, CSX. “Through innovative projects like these, Rochester Institute of Technology is molding the leaders of tomorrow. CSX is proud to be part of this project and to move the things America needs every day in the safest, most efficient and environmentally friendly way possible.”

RG&E also played a key role for the event. The company’s hydroelectric operations team augmented the flow of water over the falls for the photograph and turned off all dam lights in the river. RG&E uses the water to produce hydroelectric power.

“RG&E and our parent company, Iberdrola, have long histories of supporting innovation, education and the arts in the communities where we serve,” said Mark S. Lynch, president and CEO of NYSEG and RG&E. “We’re proud to support the Rochester Institute of Technology and the 2014 Big Shot which cleverly combines all three of these elements in a unique way.” Based on achieving the best flow of water across the width of the river, more than 1000 cfs were directed to the falls.

The City of Rochester darkened the Genesee River from the falls to the Broad Street aqueduct by turning off all street and sidewalk lighting along the river. The city also turned off lights on Cataract Street and the Pont De Rennes Bridge, where most volunteers gathered during the photo. The pedestrian bridge and viewing platform spans the Genesee River a few hundred feet from the base of the falls and surrounding gorge. This allowed a clear line of sight to the 1841 Erie Canal Aqueduct located 1/4 mile down river. All total the city turned off more than 110 lights.

“The City of Rochester is proud to partner with RIT, Nikon, Profoto, CSX Railroad, and RG&E on the 29th RIT Big Shot project,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “I’d like to thank all of the photographers who helped us capture the beauty of High Falls, an often-overlooked gem in the center of our city.” A longtime sponsor of the event, Nikon Inc., was among the corporate supporters again this year, loaning high-end photographic equipment and making possible memento prints for all who attended. Profoto supplied six powerful battery-operated electronic flash systems used to light the falls during the picture, and also provided a grant to pay costs associated with the city’s work to turn off lighting around the falls. 


Produced & Sponsored by:

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While doing research for the project, we came across this photograph of the High Falls from 1905. Notice the train. How ironic!
high falls 1905_700

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