Greg Benz Photography » Minneapolis based cityscape and landscape photographer; luminosity masking fiend

Creating Lumenzia has been a labor of love.  I’ve had to learn all sorts of new tricks: coding for Photoshop, website design, etc.  Getting everything right without some feedback would be impossible, but thankfully Google Analytics offers amazing data to help get the website part right.  My blog runs on WordPress.  It has some pretty good data right out of the box, but there’s also a lot of information that isn’t captured.  I also get some great comments on the blog and emails with helpful information, but most people visit websites without sending feedback, so analytics are key.  I wanted to get a sense of whether people were able to understand the Lumenzia information I put on the blog and successfully navigate over to the 3rd party website I use to sell digital downloads (DPD).  Configuring everything to measure cross-site analytics were definitely above my head, so I reached out for professional help.  If you’re ever looking for assistance with Google Analytics or website optimization, I highly recommend Paul Sanders from Radio Tower Digital.  He’s insanely nice, won’t stop until the job is finished, and is an SEO/analytics ninja.

I’ve lived in Minnesota over 10 years, and only recently learned of this little gem just over the border into Wisconsin, the Will River Falls.  I drove in not long before sunset, walked straight to the falls, and took this shot.  But I definitely got the feeling I need to head back, it’s a huge park with loads of trails.  I always love looking over my photos later to find the little details I’ve missed (one of the wonderful things about the Nikon D810, you can see every little detail).  I was so engrossed in getting this shot (and in making sure I didn’t get dunked from the tiny perch I used), that I didn’t notice this couple sitting high on the cliff to the right.  They look like little dots here on the web, but if you look at the bottom of the treeline toward the right edge of the top of the falls, you’ll see them sitting there just enjoying the view.  Such a cool little spot, I can’t wait to get back.

Willow River Falls in Hudson, WI.

This is the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.  I love the stunning golden colors of the building at sunset and reflection in the pond.  But in my twisted little mind, all I really notice is that frog.  He seems like he needs some buddies.  And he seems bored – why isn’t he hopping over to where the lily pads are?  He’s been sitting there for 91 years, so maybe he’s just tired.  Or maybe he just never grew tired of that view. Or maybe it’s a she, I didn’t check.

Como Park Conservatory sunset and reflection in frog Mirror Pond

Ok, so it wasn’t frozen, but the bulging Mississippi River looked like glass to me.  We had huge floods in St Paul this past spring when I took this image, and the water was much higher than usual.  That dark line at the water’s edge is a train bridge.  What happens when the water gets that high?!

downtown St Paul, Minnesota

When I was an intern back in college, I worked at manufacturing plant that made plastic bumpers and fuel tanks.  It was a greasy, chaotic mess full of lessons about how not to live your life.  The extruding machines were sometimes left unattended so long that the engineers had an electric chainsaw in the office, just in case they had to cut apart a hunk of plastic on the floor that was too big to move.  And they once had to evacuate the plant after someone decided to celebrate 4th of July… with fireworks… inside a plastics plant.  There was this older guy in that crazy plant who was so surly that I assumed he wouldn’t have much to teach me about life.  One day, he said to me, “Greg, there are three phases in life: childhood, your working years, and retirement.  Never be in a rush to get to the next phase, just enjoy the one you’re in.”  And that lesson has stuck with me ever since.

When I look at photos taken with a long-exposure, I sometimes think back to that lesson.  You get an almost poetic sense of just how much of our world is constantly in motion.  Not just all of us “busy” people, but everything is changing all the time.  Take this photo of downtown St Paul, MN for example.  The clouds and water are blurred out after only 30 seconds or so.  And of course, that beautiful peach sunrise will be gone in a couple minutes, and so will the street lights.  Now that it’s winter, the boats are gone and green leaves have been replaced with brown tree branches and white snow.  There’s only a tiny sliver of concrete and glass that would look the same right now.  And of course, that really hasn’t been here all that long in the grand scheme of things.  I’m often excited about the future, but I also try to remind myself to just enjoy the moment.

A firey pink sunrise over downtown Saint Paul