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Burb's Eye View: Library photo exhibition tells many stories

March 27, 2012|By Bryan Mahoney

The faces in the photo tell only part of the story. They are transfixed by something off to the right.

The man has his hand to his mouth, wrinkles adding depth to the wonder and dread passing his face. A woman is near him and she is expecting something. They are surrounded by more faces, stock-still in the moment captured by a single camera flash.

A tiny flame is reflected in their eyes.

It was a moment Dennis Ghiatis knew he had to keep. Surrounded by fellow science fans at the Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, he'd come there to share this one last experience with his friends. They were there to see a glorious finale.

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Gingerly he lifted the camera from his side. He watched the stunned faces of the crowd focus on the television at the front of the room. It blared an image of the rocket engines, fiery mouths ready to spit their cargo to the heavens for the last time.

The countdown drew closed. Most of us never lived in a world without “5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 …” and yet the final voyage of the space shuttle Atlantis last year meant an end to an era of space exploration and wonderment at the worlds beyond our own. Huddled in this auditorium with his fellow Planetary Society members, Ghiatis took to capturing their faces in the final seconds of the countdown.

It's hard to say what drew me to that photo among from the dozens on the wall. It may have been the mystery beyond the photo's borders — “What is that over there?”

It may be the mixed emotions worn in the creases around their mouths, the shock shared among many.

The photograph was powerful enough to earn Ghiatis a third-place honor in the Burbank library's amateur photo competition, on display now in the library auditorium on the second floor.

He said the two photos that took first and second places deserved their honors; they told the whole story in a single shot, whereas his needed a little explanation — especially with the glow in everyone's eyes.

“It was something I didn't realize until much later, but in the eyes of all the people, there's a bright spot; it was the flames of the rocket,” he said.

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