Photo Essay | Painting with Urban Light

Welcome to Modern In Denver’s photo essay series. Each issue we give a talented photographer free reign to explore the modern world through his or her lens. The results offer insight into the way trained eyes see the things surrounding us. We hope you’re as inspired as we are by the possibilities and perspectives offered in these professional takes.

Painting with Urban Light

Manual mode with a new camera is a fun place to experiment. Many years ago on a photo hike in the mountains, I accidentally fired a long exposure while the camera was still in motion. The resulting photo resembled a painting with streaks of autumn foliage brushed across the image surface. It was abstract and lovely, and inspired a fascination with the idea that creating a photograph is analogous to painting an exposure with the LIGHT of a particular moment in space and time.

Maybe it takes a special kind of geek, but I find this relationship between photography, space and time to be rather captivating. The “photograph as painting” metaphor can be brought into focus when you start lengthening exposures (the amount of time the shutter is open) to allow the light and color of motion to be washed through a photograph…

… like the stroke of a paintbrush loaded with color.

The incredible opportunity of this photo essay struck me as a fantastic realm in which to explore the edges of this idea in the city, using the vibrant hues of urban motion as my palette, carefully juxtaposed against iconic architecture of Denver. Turns out the movement of colorful transportation can be luscious and painterly when captured in this manner. Something to ponder next time you’re stuck in traffic…

…enjoy the colors of Denver in motion!



The final photographs were created with a tripod mounted Canon 5D and a 16-35mm lens. Apertures were set between f-11 and f-16, and my exposures were almost a second in length (depending on speed of traffic). Bright sun was desired to illuminate the colors of the passing vehicles, so to lengthen my exposures in broad daylight I photographed through a combination of polarizers, neutral density filters and a tight black mesh (which created the painterly texture in the photos).

The final requirement: patience. Lots of patience. And sunscreen.

Jennifer Koskinen
Part mountain girl, part urban enthusiast, Jennifer is jazzed to be soaking up the urban experience of Denver after 15 years of cultivating a more quiet artistry in the mountains of Telluride, Colorado.

Inspired by a wide range of photographic subjects from portraiture to architecture, Jennifer’s creative interests are admittedly varied; but a life-long love of art, the ephemeral nature of light and shadow, and great design are fundamental touchstones of her personal and professional pursuits. A Master of Architecture and a decade in the industry bring a thoughtful, design-oriented sensibility to her architectural photography. Stylistically she strives to celebrate her subjects (both animate and inanimate) through attention to detail, personality and warmth.

Did we mention that she loves all things coffee?

There’s more! Check out the diversity of her portfolio on her website.

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