More than 200 photos were submitted in this year's photo contest sponsored by the Friends of the Burbank Library, and many people took home awards, but one shot stood out from the rest.
Alex Heschong, a 20-year-old Glendale resident, took home the Best of Show Award during a ceremony at the Buena Vista Branch Library Thursday night, but the amateur photographer did not attend the event.
The library's auditorium was packed that night, with everyone intently listening to Louise Paziak, president of the Friends of the Burbank Library, as she read the names of the honorable mentions and winners in each category.
"I honestly didn't know that they were going to announce the photo winners that night," Heschong said on Friday, adding that he would have gone to the event had he known.
Heschong's photo was initially seen by the audience during the architecture category of the competition, in which he won first place. The photograph is a snapshot of an eerie subway tunnel that had great details of the tracks and other components of a light-rail line.
John Dlugolecki, a local photographer and one of the judges in this year's competition, said he was impressed with the photo, commenting on how the highlights, shadows and overall composition of the piece continually drew him in.
"It's obviously a tunnel, but you don't know the scale of it," he said. "You think those are handrails on the side, but they're really electrical conduits."
Dlugolecki added he was surprised to find out the winning photo was shot by Heschong, who was in Dlugolecki's Boy Scout troop when Heschong was younger. He said he wished he could have picked Heschong's brain Thursday night.
Heschong explained that he took the photo about four years ago, and that it was taken on the platform of the Metro Red and Purple Line at the Civic Center/Grand Park station in downtown Los Angeles pointing toward the Pershing Square station.
He said he was experimenting with long-exposure shots in the tunnel to see if he could get an interesting photo of a train passing by. Using a tripod and setting his shutter speed at about 10 seconds, Heschong took photo after photo of trains traveling past him.
Because of the long-exposure photos he was taking, Heschong said he didn't like the way the shots came out when a train was in them. That's when he decided to take a photo of an incoming train as it was approaching the station.
"I managed to get the shot right before the train showed up in view, so [the photo] ended up having that really cool lighting effect," Heschong said. "It was the train's headlights on the approach that did that."
Heschong said it was the first time he had entered any of his photos into a contest, adding that he was still surprised about being the overall winner of this year's competition.
"It was kind of a no-brainer for me [to submit the photo] because of how much I loved it, and I had a feeling that a lot of other people would love it," he said. "It sounded like a lot of people did."
While the ceremony naming the winners took place at the Buena Vista location, Heschong's photo and the others entered in this year's photo contest are on display at the Burbank Central Library through April 28.