Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The power of light in photography May 7, 2013

“WAIT. DON’T GO,” I requested as he was about to pull away from a stop sign in Owatonna.

Through the drizzled windshield, my eye caught a flash of red letters against the backdrop of a moody blue grey sky.

Shot Tuesday evening, April 30, in downtown Owatonna, Minnesota.

Shot Tuesday evening, April 30, in downtown Owatonna, Minnesota.

I wanted a photo of the dreamy scene—the bright signage atop the Owatonna Power Plant building, the warm glow of lantern street lights, flashes of taillights and headlights, the patch of light through a glass door, the reflection of light upon wet pavement.

In that precise moment, the frame unfolding before me was all about light, a gift to any photographer. There was no hesitating. Hesitation, for a photographer, equals regrets.

A closer shot of the 75-year-old signage.

A closer shot of the 75-year-old signage.

And so my husband, who understands, or at least pretends to understand, held foot to brake, flipped on the windshield wipers and allowed me to fire off several shots before continuing through the intersection.

Unexpected opportunities like this, to photograph an iconic landmark in remarkable light, are to be embraced.

FYI: The sign atop the Owatonna Power Plant recently underwent a transformation as the neon letters were replaced with LED technology. Also, as a result of damage caused by a September 2010 flood, the building has been repurposed into office space. The power plant has not been used as an energy source for years with Owatonna Public Utilities purchasing its electricity instead from Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “The power of light in photography”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Oh how many shots have been missed because of hesitation??? I am always making Chris slow down or stop on trips, too!!! He is very patient!!! As is Randy, I suspect!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      How well our husbands know us, huh? Yes, Randy is quite good about stopping or slowing down. He even suggests photo ops sometimes.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Ahhh yes, perfectly said, “Hesitation, for a photographer, equals regrets”. Oh I have had sooooo many regrets, but Rick always offers to slow down…back up and wait while I snap a photo. I bet our husbands could share many stories about the stops made for us 🙂
    Love the photo Audrey, lots of beautiful light that’s for sure!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I bet they could. I’ve had regrets, too, about not stopping. I’m learning not to hesitate. Hardly ever.

  3. Glad you weren’t on the freeway! 🙂 I don’t know how many times I’ve wished I could pull over on the 35W bridge when I’m driving on it late in the day when the light makes Minneapolis and the river where the Stone Arch Bridge spans it look magical.
    You really captured the dreaminess/moodiness in this scene. I like it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Nope, never stop on a freeway for photos or anywhere that would be dangerous.

  4. Cool Captures! Mr. Craves is pretty great when it comes to times I have camera in hand – she makes frequent stops – Watch Out!!! Happy Tuesday:)

  5. Ah, that Randy. What a good guy. I am not always bold enough to ask C. to stop driving – so I have the regrets that you spoke of.

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    The power of light!!! Awesome photo-op!! I so wish that others would think to re-purpose such wonderful structures. A beautiful ‘capture’! Hugs…….

  7. Audrey, I have often sat at that red light, and thought of those neon letters, (ok, LED now!) I always thought they looked like something out of a sci-phy spoof movie (Coneheads-maybe!)
    I surely look at my day to day surroundings differently since meeting you! Thank you.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Stacey, you have just started my day off in the most splendid way. If readers take away one thing away from my blog, it would be to notice and appreciate the details. Thank you so much for your kind words; they mean a great deal to me.

  8. Kristen K Says:

    I love these photos–perfect!

    I drive by OPU at least four times a day and didn’t realize until recently that it’s not used as an energy source. However, they will be completely renovating the interior over the next year. (For office space, I’m guessing.) The whole lower level will be wet flood proofed, meaning it will have vents to let flood waters inside so that the pressure is equalized. It sounds pretty interesting!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I bet the interior would provide for some great photo ops. Thanks for the additional info. I’m so appreciative when a community keeps these historic buildings rather than destroys them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.