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Eadweard Muybridge (1830 - 1904)

Related: time - motion - early film - photography

Muybridge's Complete Human and Animal Locomotion: New Volume 1 - Eadweard Muybridge [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In 1878 Eadweard Muybridge made a demonstration of high-speed time lapse photography of a horse airborne during the gallop using a trip-wire system. Prior to 1877, no one really knew how a horse's legs moved while the animal was running at full speed. The motion of a horse's legs were a blur, even to the best eyes. Because of a phenomenon known as persistence of vision, the human eye holds onto an image for a short period of time, causing blurring when rapid motion is observed. After two wealthy horse racers placed bets as to whether a horse ever had all four legs off the ground at the same time, American photographer Edweard Muybridge set up an experiment to test this. He placed twenty - four cameras with shutters hooked to trip wires set a fixed, uniform distance apart. As a horse raced past, he would break the wires, thus snapping 24 pictures of itself. Muybridge's photos showed conclusively that a horse does in fact have all four legs in the air for a fleeting moment during each repetition of the motions in its gait. [Aug 2006]


Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830–May 8, 1904) was a British-born photographer, known primarily for his early use of multiple cameras to capture motion.

Born Edward James Muggeridge at Kingston-on-Thames, England, in 1872, businessman and former California governor Leland Stanford hired Muybridge to settle a question (not a bet, as is popularly believed): Stanford claimed, contrary to popular belief, that there was a point in a horse's gallop when all four hooves were off the ground. By 1878, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion using a series of fifty cameras. Each of the cameras were arranged along a track parallel to the horse's, and each of the camera shutters were controlled by trip wires which were triggered by the horse's hooves. This series of photos, taken at what is now Stanford University, is called The Horse in Motion, and shows that, indeed, the hooves all leave the ground.

The system was a precursor to the development of the motion picture camera; when the photographs were printed onto a zoetrope or other viewing device, realistic motion could be replicated.

Muybridge used this technique many times to photograph people and animals to study their movement. In the 1990s, U2 made the video to their song Lemon into a tribute to Muybridge's techniques.

Similar setups of carefully timed multiple cameras are used in modern special effects photography with the opposite goal: capturing changing camera angles with little or no movement of the subject. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge [Oct 2004]

Muybridge's Complete Human and Animal Locomotion: New Volume 1 () - Eadweard Muybridge

  • Muybridge's Complete Human and Animal Locomotion: New Volume 1 () - Eadweard Muybridge [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    "Of all the great pioneer-innovators of the 19th century, perhaps the least known is Eadweard Muybridge."
    "Of all the great turning points in scientific, technological and artistic thought, undoubtedly the least known (because it has effectively, never been published) is Muybridge's eleven-volume pictorial treatise of human and animal life in motion."

    "100 years after completion, this rarest of all photographic series (only 37 sets still extant, most of them incomplete) is finally published complete and accessible to a wide public, in three volumes of 20,000 photographs. Twenty years of devotion and invention, patience and insight, plus $50,000 and 100,000 negatives, culminated in the quintessential study of the moving figure. Muybridge had created an encylopedic anatomy of motion, unique in its day and unsurpassed in ours."

    "The photographs consist of a series of movements shown in stop-motion sequence: 781 plates (each plate is a two-page spread) of nearly 300 separate actions split into as many as 50 individual shots per action. 532 of the plates show clothed and unclothed men, women and children engaging in a wide variety of typical actions and activities."

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