- Muybridge , Eadweard James
- (1830–1904) American photographerMuybridge was born Edward James Muggeridge at Kingston-on-Thames in Surrey. He changed his surname and forename in his early twenties, the latter after the Saxon kings who were crowned at Kingston in the 10th century. Although Muybridge spent much of his life in America, making his first trip there in 1852, he always retained links with his birthplace. Indeed, following a serious stagecoach accident in 1860 he returned to England to recuperate from his injuries.By 1867 Muybridge was back in America, working as partner to the San Francisco-based photographer, Carleton E. Watson, and he quickly established a reputation as a skilled exponent of landscapes with a series of prints taken in California's Yosemite Valley. In 1868 he was appointed director of photographic surveys for the US Government, and undertook photographic surveys of several remote regions, including the ports and harbors of newly purchased Alaska.An interest in high-speed photography can be traced to the year 1872, when Muybridge was commissioned by the wealthy Californian racehorse owner, Leland Stanford, to attempt to settle the contentious issue of whether a trotting or galloping horse lifted all four feet clear of the ground at any point during its stride. Muybridge's attempts to capture this on film were of poor quality and less than convincing.In October 1874 Muybridge's personal life was shattered when he was arrested for the murder of his wife's lover, whom Muybridge suspected was the father of the son born in April that year. Muybridge was held in prison for several months, but after a lengthy trial he was acquitted in February 1875. His wife, who had unsuccessfully sued for divorce, died later that year, leaving Muybridge to support the child.Following a trip to Central America in 1875, and a dramatic panoramic sequence of pictures taken of San Francisco in 1877, Muybridge returned to his attempts at high-speed photography. He developed a more efficient shutter mechanism for the camera, and by using a battery of 12 cameras he was able to produce 12 sharply defined consecutive images of a galloping horse, all taken within half a second.It was readily apparent that if such a sequence of pictures were viewed in rapid succession, the motion of the horse or other subject would be reproduced. Muybridge mounted the silhouettes of the horse on a glass disk, which was rotated and projected onto a screen through a device invented by the photographer and called a ‘zoopraxiscope’. This was first demonstrated to the public in 1880, in what some would claim to be the first moving picture.Muybridge's work was by now attracting considerable scientific interest, and in 1884 he began work at the University of Pennsylvania on what was to prove a celebrated series of high-speed studies of movement in both animals and human subjects. His new multilens camera could take 12 pictures on a single photographic plate in as little as one-fifth of a second. The results of this work were published in 11 volumes as Animal Locomotion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movement (1887). Included in this were his famous sequences of nude human subjects, often performing bizarre actions such as carrying a pan of water and sweeping with a broom.The technique used by Muybridge could produce only very short sequences of moving pictures in the zoopraxiscope. However, the American inventor Thomas Edison was impressed by them, and may have found in them inspiration for his own invention, the cine camera and its perforated roll film. Certainly Muybridge and Edison collaborated on an abortive attempt to match sound to Muybridge's picture sequences.Muybridge returned to Kingston in 1900, and spent his final years there. He bequeathed his zoopraxiscope and other apparatus to the public library in his home town.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.