On Saturday I caught up by phone with Keith Ellenbogen and Allan Adams as they huddled in a corner of Logan Airport. Ellenbogen, an underwater photographer, and Adams, a theoretical physicist at MIT, were on their way to Patagonia, where they were scheduled to teach a one-week class on marine photography and also shoot a breeding ground for elephant seals.
That a physicist and a photographer would be professional traveling companions is a little unusual. Ellenbogen and Adams first met at a dinner party in 2013. At the time, Ellenbogen was working with the New England Aquarium to photograph animals for marketing materials and Adams had recently happened upon a stash of high-speed video equipment at MIT. They got talking and imagined they might produce something neat by applying MIT’s high-end, high-speed cameras to the animals at the aquarium.
For their first shoot, Ellenbogen took high-speed video of the squid-like cuttlefish seizing its next meal in a dramatically quick action that’s hard to glimpse. But through the lens of a high-speed camera, which can takes hundreds of frames per second and perceive things many times faster than the human eye, the cuttlefish strike slowed to a long, balletic movement.
“It engulfed the thing in the blink of an eye, but when we watched it on a monitor we could see it in 30 seconds of time, the cuttlefish approaching, its long tentacle striking,” says Ellenbogen. Read more…