Keith Ellenbogen

Using ultra high-speed cameras to showcase underwater worlds in exquisite detail.

Our world is full of invisible art, balletic behaviors and magical dynamics that are too fast, or too rare, to be seen with the naked eye. In an extraordinary collaboration, underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen and MIT theoretical physicist Allan Adams explore high-speed and ultra high-speed cameras (capable of ten million frames per second) to showcase awe-inspiring images of extreme moments found in nature in exquisite, luxuriant detail as never seen before. Their visual experiments earned crucial support from the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and from Jim Bales, Assistant Director of the MIT Edgerton Center for High-Speed Imaging and guru of the high-speed photography community. Their initial images of sharks, cuttlefish and sparks of lightning reveal both dramatic visual experiences as well as scientific insights that may increase our understanding of the world around us.

As part of this residency, Ellenbogen and Adams developed an ‘Underwater Conservation Photography’ class taught at MIT during IAP 2016. This one-month class challenged students to push technical and aesthetic boundaries in the pursuit of compelling images for/of marine conservation and culminated in an exhibition of student work.

Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), the MIT Department of Physics and the MIT Edgerton Center.

Keith Ellenbogen is an acclaimed underwater photographer and videographer who focuses on environmental conservation. Ellenbogen documents marine life to showcase its beauty and to elicit an emotional connection to the underwater world. He aims to inspire social change and action toward protecting the marine environment. Ellenbogen is a Senior Fellow with The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), Fellow with the Explorers Club, and an Assistant Professor of Photography at SUNY/FIT. He holds an MFA from Parsons School for Design and received a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in photography/videography. His images have been published worldwide in newspapers, magazines and books, as well as on TV. He has worked with numerous conservation organizations to create images that promote public understanding of the undersea world.

Ellenbogen’s selected photography/video assignments include Meso-American Reef Fish Campaign, Mexico with iLCP; the Phoenix Islands Protected Area with The New England Aquarium; the endangered Atlantic Bluefin Tuna on an annual migration with Oceana; the launch of The Ocean Health Index with Conservation International; and Wild Places, Sitka Alaska with Philippe Cousteau/ EarthEcho International. Ellenbogen has also published his photographs in three books in Houghton Mifflin’s “Scientists in the Field” series for young readers. Additionally, his work has been featured throughout Boston as part of The New England Aquarium’s outdoor summer print and TV advertising campaigns.

Ellenbogen’s work has been recognized within the 2015 Communication Arts Photography Annual, 2015 Audubon Photography Awards, Natures Best Magazine: 2013 Oceans Photography Competition, Blue Ocean Film Festival, 2014, World Oceans Summit in Washington DC hosted by John Kerry and presented by President Tong, The Republic of Kiribati, and the ‘Floating Exhibition’ at The Boston Summer Arts Festival. Additionally, Ellenbogen lectures on environmental and conservation photography at such institutions as the New England Aquarium IMAX Theater, Museum of Science in Boston and The Central Park Conservancy in New York.

More on the artist’s website: Keith Ellenbogen.

Past Events

8.S10 Underwater Conservation Photography Student Exhibition
Opening Reception
Monday, March 7, 2016 / 5:00pm
MIT Wiesner Student Art Gallery
Second Floor, MIT Student Center, Building W20

Free and open to the public

In collaboration with MIT theoretical physicist Allan Adams, Ellenbogen developed and co-taught an innovative Underwater Conservation Photography Course for IAP in January 2016. This one-month class challenged students to learn the art of underwater conservation photography, with a goal of marine environmental conservation and positive social change. The final week of the course was spent putting these skills and devices to use at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Glover’s Reef Research Station in Belize.

Presenting the photography and conservation stories from a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students at MIT who participated in the 8.S10 Underwater Conservation Photography course.

Keith Ellenbogen, MIT CAST Visiting Artist Exhibition Opening
September 15, 2015 / 5:00pm
MIT CTP (Center for Theoretical Physics), 4th Floor, Building 6

MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) Visiting Artist Keith Ellenbogen is an acclaimed underwater photographer and videographer who focuses on environmental conservation. Ellenbogen documents marine life to showcase its beauty and to elicit an emotional connection to the underwater world. He aims to inspire social change and action toward protecting the marine environment. 

Visualizing Marine Conservation
Panel Discussion and Presentations: Caleb McClennen, Executive Director, Marine Conservation Wildlife Conservation Society, Merry Camhi, Director New York Seascape Program, Wildlife Conservation Society and Keith Ellenbogen
September 30, 2015 / 5:00pm
MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, Cosman Seminar Room 6C-442

Free and open to the public

 

The Art of Underwater Photography
Presentation by Keith Ellenbogen
October 7, 2015 / 5:00pm
MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, Cosman Seminar Room 6C-442

Free and open to the public

 

A Window into the Underwater World: Framing Fish at the New England Aquarium
Presentation and Discussion: Steve Bailey, Curator of Fishes at the New England Aquarium, and Keith Ellenbogen
October 21, 2015 / 5:00pm
MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, Cosman Seminar Room 6C-442

Free and open to the public

 

The White Sharks of Cape Cod: Science, Art and the Public Imagination
Panel Discussion and Presentations: Dr. Greg Skomal, Senior Marine Fisheries Scientist, MA Marine Fisheries, Great White Shark Researcher and TV Personality (Shark Week) and Keith Ellenbogen
November 18, 2015 / 5:00pm
MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, Cosman Seminar Room 6C-442

Free and open to the public

 

Seeing the Invisible Ocean — Art at Technology’s Cutting Edge
Presentation and Discussion: Keith Ellenbogen and Allan Adams, Associate Professor of Physics
December 9, 2015 / 5:00pm
MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, Cosman Seminar Room 6C-442

Free and open to the public

 

Residency Schedule

Underwater Conservation Photography [8.S10]
IAP 2016, January 4-29

Sponsors: MIT Department of Physics, Edgerton Center
Instructors: Keith Ellenbogen and Allan Adams, MIT Department of Physics

This intensive crash course in underwater photography will cover everything from underwater optics to hacking simple ROVs to building custom imaging devices to the ecology of coral reef ecosystems and the behavior of their inhabitants.  These topics will be covered in lectures, in lab work, on local field trips, and in team design and construction projects.  The final week will be spent putting these skills and devices to use at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Glover’s Reef Research Station (GRRS) off the coast of Belize.  Students from the University of Belize will be invited to join by Skype in Cambridge and in person on Glover’s Reef.  Video and still images from this expedition will be collected into a traveling exhibition to be shown at the Bronx Zoo, the MIT Museum, the Boston Planetarium, SUNY/FIT, and beyond.

Most class expenses, including travel to the field station and costs while in Belize, plus camera equipment, ROVs, UAVs, etc, will be covered by the class.  The only costs to accepted students would be for scuba certification if not previously obtained, and either renting or bringing dive gear (wetsuit, fins, mask, BCD, reg, etc).  If those costs present a barrier to any student to join the class, Allan and Keith would work with accepted students to find a way to cover the costs.  Money should not be a barrier to anyone interested in participating.

Enrollment: Up to 24 students on-campus, 16 of whom may travel to the field station.  Targeted at undergraduates, open to anyone at MIT subject to availability.  Scuba certification required; dive classes available from MIT Recreation.

Hours: 8 units (2-5-1): 7 hours daily on campus, full time onsite at GRRS

 

 

The Boston Globe: A Photographer and a Physicist Team Up

Photo District News: How I Got That Grant: Keith Ellenbogen’s High-Speed Photography Adventure at M.I.T.

National Geographic Voices: Global Coral Reef Expedition: Palau 

BBC Earth: The Struggle to Save Caribbean Huge Barrier Reef

Oceans @ MIT: Lights, Camera, Action: Revealing the Ocean’s Invisible Beauty

The Boston Globe: Aquarium Unveils TV Ads (Keith Ellenbogen and Allan Adams shoot television campaign for the New England Aquarium)  

 

Allan Adams, Associate Professor of Physics, MIT

Jim Bales, Assistant Director, Edgerton Center, MIT

Wildlife Conservation Society

Duggal Visual Solutions

Phase One

 

 

Keith Ellenbogen, Photograph of the artist. Image courtesy of the artist.