Ken Rhodes

Capturing time in landscape

Hi, I’m Ken. I’m a neuroscientist by training, currently working as the chief scientific officer of a young biotech company located in the Boston area. I am also an avid landscape photographer.

I always had a passion for photography. I did quite a bit of film photography when I was in high school, but at university I put the camera down for several years as I pursued an advanced degree and raised a family. I picked it up again about 10 years ago and revived my interest in landscape photography in a way that surprised even myself.

“You can plan only so much about how the final image will look, the rest is up to nature and time. This element of uncertainty is what draws me to long exposure photography.”

Today, photography enables me to express myself in a way that I can’t do in my career as a scientist. In science, we have a very structured approach to running experiments. Many of the things we do have to meet fairly strict criteria as we, let’s say, advance molecules from the laboratories into human clinical studies. Landscape photography, and particularly long exposure photography, lets me bring this experimentation out into the landscape. Long exposure introduces an element of uncertainty or unpredictability in the image and, when you’re lucky, all the elements in the landscape combine to offer you a truly unexpected and sometimes even extraordinary outcome.

I think of myself as a photo impressionist of sorts. I try to portray landscapes in unusual or atypical ways, ways that speak to me both as a photographer and as a scientist, and to capture representations of time as it relates to a landscape.

I shoot Phase One equipment because it’s truly extraordinary. I love the modularity of the camera system, the fact that I can upgrade the digital back as new advances of technology emerge. And, as my photography evolves, the company really supports the system with innovations that let me approach things in landscape photography that I had never really even imagined before.

This image was taken at Crummock Water in England’s Lake District. It’s a beautiful landscape with rolling hills and a beautiful lake, exactly the elements you would imagine make up the bucolic English countryside. The image is extraordinary to me because it really is one of those examples where everything you hoped could come together to present that gorgeous landscape in a unique and visually appealing way just happened.

“I walked away from that capture with a big smile on my face because I knew even by looking at the preview on the camera screen that it was going to be something I would love.”

I’ve been very fortunate to go on some pretty extraordinary photography trips. One of the most memorable ones was a trip to Ireland, a workshop run by Phase One with Steve Gosling and Peter Cox as instructors. Apart from the breathtaking landscapes we visited and shot, this was such a great opportunity to hang out with other passionate photographers, share techniques and travel stories, and learn about the Phase One gear.

One place I would love to go shoot and haven’t visited yet is Antarctica or, even closer to home, Greenland. I think I would enjoy the challenge of trying to capture those exceptionally beautiful landscapes in a unique way, especially since I’d have to take long exposures from a moving vessel. I think it would push me out of my comfort zone and make me approach my photography in a different way than what I’m used to.

As humans, we’re not on this earth for a very long period of time, and the landscape will continue to exist long after we are gone. We should do everything we can to protect and preserve our landscape for future generations.

One of the things I aim to achieve through my photography is to bring these extraordinary landscapes to people in a different way and help them appreciate them as this valuable resource that we have to protect.