In 1872, California Governor Leland Stanford, a millionaire, and builder of the Intercontinental Railroad asked Eadweard Muybridge to photograph his racehorse, the Oxidant, which broke the world speed record.
Stanford wanted to prove that all four horses’ legs were pulled off the ground in a short time during the attack.
Whatever Stanford’s motivation, Muybridge achieved its first successes in 1872 and 1873.
These first photos were too blurry to be published, but they were still clear enough to prove Stanford right, he traveled extensively and took many photos of Central America.
He then returned to San Francisco and resumed photographing the movements of creatures in 1877.
Muybridge resumed his work with Stanford, using, for the first time, a white background to reduce the exposure time to one-thousandth of a second, thus photographing the “oxidant” as it flew at full speed.
Although the resulting image was not very clear, it was released after corrections.
Of course, the corrections were made in such a way that the photo almost became a painting.
These photographs can now be seen at the Stanford Museum of Art in California.
In 1879, Muybridge doubled the number of cameras it placed in motion, using five additional cameras to capture angled angles of horses, dogs, pigs, pigeons, goats, and humans.
In May of that year, he published a book entitled: Animals in motion.
An invention for recording motion
Eadweard Muybridge was working on a way to display images he had previously taken of the movement of his subjects.
In this way, he reconstructed the movements visually, and thus created the “Zeus Peroxinoscope”.
The illusion of observation of motion
This device displays a series of images continuously and creates the illusion of observing movement in the viewer.
It was the world’s first imaging device and was the most advanced of its kind until Thomas Edison invented the kinetoscope twelve years later in 1891.
This invention was a big step for him, who dreams of recording motion.
Fatigue in the last steps
Muybridge was worn out at 63 years old. So he returned to Kingston and donated his photographs to the local library.
Muybridge published two popular books: Animals in Motion in 1899 and The Man in Motion in 1901, respectively.
Three years after the publication of his last work, he was unable to witness the repeated publication of his books and saw that nearly a century after the first publication of these works; the photographs in them constitute the most complete archive of images of animal movements.