Eadweard Muybridge's experiment at Palo Alto, San Francisco

Essay by gakuseUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2004

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Name: Toh Lai Hee

Class: IA03B

Subject: History of Photography

Lecturer: Gradimir Aleksic

Assignment: Eadweard Muybridge's experiment at Palo Alto, San Francisco

Before I actually proceed to the experiment at Palo Alto, allow me to talk abit about Eadweard Muybridge.

Edward James Muggeridge (his real name) was born on April 9, 1830, in Kingston upon Thames, England. It is said that because this area is associated with the coronation of Saxon kings, so he adopted the name Eadweard Muybridge, believing it to be the original Anglo-Saxon form of his name.

Muybridge's main claim to fame (apart from being acquitted for the murder of his wife's lover) was his exhaustive study of movement. Just about this same time the French physiologist Etienne Marey was studying animal movement, and his studies began to suggest that a horse's movements were very different from what one had imagined. One of the people who became aware of this research was Leland Stanford, a former governor of California, who owned a number of racehorses.

Stanford was determined to find the truth about this. It is said that he bet a friend that when a horse gallops, at a particular point all four feet are off the ground simultaneously. To prove his case he hired Muybridge to investigate whether the claim was true.

In the spring of 1872 Leland Stanford invites Muybridge to photograph his horses.

Muybridge has improved a shutter to 1/1000 of a second and also improved the chemistry. He uses 12 stereoscopic cameras in a 50 feet long shed alongside the track of the horse. In front of each camera is a shutter that consists of two slides with an opening or a slit in each of them. Both slides are connected to two India-rubber bands and on release move in opposite directions.