Big Shot at Churchill Downs in Louisville KY is a Big Effort

From Churchill Downs


Photography Team Captures Spectacular Nighttime Image of Iconic Home of the Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY – Rain and unseasonably cool temperatures didn’t keep Louisville from making the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) 31st Big Shot at Churchill Downs a success.

Local volunteers, RIT students and local RIT alumni used flashlights and other handheld devices as the primary light source to illuminate the famous Twin Spires while RIT photographers shot an extended exposure photograph of Churchill Downs clubhouse. This year’s final image was a 30-second exposure at f11 (ISO 100).

“This is a community project and we couldn’t have done it without everyone in Louisville who came out tonight and the support of our sponsors,” said RIT Professor Michael Peres who led the event. “We’ve created a once-in-a-lifetime photograph of the world’s most legendary racetrack and one of our most recognizable national historic landmarks.”

The Big Shot is often described as “painting with light” because participants are asked to “paint” or shine their light source on a particular area of a landmark while the photograph is taken. Participants were tasked with continuously painting an assigned area of Churchill Downs while RIT photographers – perched above the infield and facing the historic twin spires and famous Kentucky Derby winner’s circle – shot an extended exposure. The photo was taken at 9:09 p.m. ET.

The Big Shot event began as a way for RIT’s nationally recognized School of Photographic Arts and Sciences to teach students about flash photography. Since it was founded in 1987, university photographers have captured iconic landmarks including AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas; The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas; and the Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden. To view the nighttime images of all Big Shot subjects, go

Longtime Big Shot sponsor Nikon Inc. was among the corporate supporters again this year, loaning high-end photographic equipment for the event. Volunteers of the free, public event received instructions on how to download a digital copy of the finished photo and a free general admission voucher to Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet Nov. 1-29.