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.