Throwback from History | Edward James Muggeridge

When a horse gallops, does it ever become fully airborne? This might be an easy question to answer in this Century but imagine how the situation must have been in the early 18th Century when there was no way to photograph a galloping horse and understand its body movements. PhotoConcierge brings the life of Edward James Muggeridge, a photographer who changed the way people perceived ‘movement’. Considered an eccentric photographer, this blog is a throwback from history and gratitude for this renowned photographer. 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Around the early 1870’s, Railroad tycoon and former California governor Leland Stanford was convinced that the Horse does get fully airborne as it trots. He therefore commissioned Muybridge to provide proof. Muybridge developed a way to take photos with an exposure lasting a fraction of a second and, with reporters as witnesses, arranged 12 cameras along a track on Stanford’s estate.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

As a horse sped by, it tripped wires connected to the cameras, which took twelve photos in rapid succession. Muybridge developed the images on site and, in the frames, revealed that a horse is completely aloft for a brief moment during a stride. The revelation, unapparent to the naked eye but apparent through photography. This clearly marked a remarkable milestone in the history of photography, almost considered as a new purpose for the medium. It could capture truth through technology. Muybridge’s stop-motion technique was an early form of animation that helped pave the way for the motion-picture industry, born a short decade later. 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

He spent much of his later career at the University of Pennsylvania (around the 1880’s), producing over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion, capturing what the human eye could not distinguish as separate movements. He spent much of his later years giving public lectures and demonstrations of his photography and early motion picture sequences, travelling back to England and Europe to publicise his work. He also edited and published compilations of his work, which greatly influenced visual artists and the developing fields of scientific and industrial photography. He returned to his native England permanently in 1894, and in 1904, the Kingston Museum, containing a collection of his equipment, was opened in his hometown.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Freeze Frame explores the famous photographs of animal and human locomotion that Muybridge made at the University of Pennsylvania between 1884 and 1887. For 100 years, historians considered these photographs to be scientific studies of the body in motion. There has always been this conflict as to whether Mubbridge’s works is artistic or scientific. Although Eadweard Muybridge thought of himself primarily as an artist, he did enjoy the perception of the tag ‘Scientific Works’. Published in 1887 as Animal Locomotion, the 781 finished prints certainly look scientific, and historically, most viewers have accepted them as reliable scientific studies of movement.

One of his famous quotes is considered as the most important mantra amongst many photographers. “We think the representation to be unimpeachable, until we throw all our preconceived impressions on one side, and seek the truth by independent observations from Nature herself.

Muybridge made the imperceptible a reality. What is your photo story revelation? Share your best with us at www.photoconcierge.com. Mobile Applications available in Play Store and iTunes. 

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