Eadweard J. Muybridge (pronounced /ˌɛdwərd ˈmaɪbrɪdʒ/) (April 9, 1830 – May 8, 1904) was an English photographer, known primarily for his important pioneering work, with use of multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the celluloid film strip that is still used today.

Muybridge began to build his reputation in 1867 with photos of Yosemite and San Francisco (many of the Yosemite photographs reproduced the same scenes taken by Carleton Watkins). Muybridge quickly became famous for his landscape photographs, which showed the grandeur and expansiveness of the West. The images were published under the pseudonym “Helios.” In the summer of 1868 Muybridge was commissioned to photograph one of the U.S. Army’s expeditions.

In 1872, former Governor of California Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, had taken a position on a popularly-debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse’s hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop. Stanford sided with this assertion, called “unsupported transit”, and took it upon himself to prove it scientifically. (Though legend also includes a wager of up to $25,000, there is no evidence of this.) Stanford sought out Muybridge and hired him to settle the question.[2] Muybridge’s relationship with Stanford was long and fraught, heralding both his entrance and exit from the history books.

To prove Stanford’s claim, Muybridge developed a scheme for instantaneous motion picture capture. Muybridge’s technology involved chemical formulas for photographic processing and an electrical trigger created by the chief engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, John D. Isaacs.

Muybridge sequence of a horse jumping.

In 1877, Muybridge settled Stanford’s question with a single photographic negative showing Stanford’s racehorse Occident airborne in the midst of a gallop. This negative was lost, but it survives through woodcuts made at the time.

By 1878, spurred on by Stanford to expand the experiment, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion using a series of twenty-four cameras. The first experience successfully took place on June 11 with the press present. Muybridge used a series of 12 stereoscopic cameras, 21 inches apart to cover the 20 feet taken by one horse stride, taking pictures at one thousandth of a second. The cameras were arranged parallel to the track, with trip-wires attached to each camera shutter triggered by the horse’s hooves.

This series of photos, taken at what is now Stanford University or in Sacramento, California (there is some dispute as to the actual location), is called The Horse in Motion, and shows that the hooves do all leave the ground — although not with the legs fully extended forward and back, as contemporary illustrators tended to imagine, but rather at the moment when all the hooves are tucked under the horse as it switches from “pulling” from the front legs to “pushing” from the back legs.

The relationship between the mercurial Muybridge and his patron broke down in 1882 when Stanford commissioned a book called The Horse in Motion as Shown by Instantaneous Photography which omitted actual photographs by Muybridge, relying instead on drawings and engravings based on the photographs and gave Muybridge scant credit for his work.

The lack of photographs was likely simply due to the printing constraints of the time but Muybridge took it as a slap in the face and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Stanford.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Muybridge-2.jpg

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