Friday, September 18, 2009


Anyone aquainted with the early history of photography will recognize the name Eadweard Muybridge. It is popularly understood that in 1878 Muybridge's photographs validated California governor Leland Stanford's assertion that a horse at gallop will have all four legs in the air simultaniously. Muybridge came up with a plan to photograph Stanford's horse Occident with a series of cameras whose shutters were activated by electrical triggers designed by John D. Isaacs who was the chief engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The experiment took place on Leland Stanford's farm which became Stanford University. What many people may not know is the location of this famous experiment continues its history with horses. The Red Barn at Stanford is a campus equestrian center, and the historic location is commemorated with a plaque in the honor of Leland Stanford, Eadweard Muybridge and John D. Isaacs. Note that the largest name on the plaque goes to the founder of Stanford University rather than those most remembered by the experiment.

While working on the Stanford's horse photography experiment, Muybridge shot and killed a local mayor who he suspected of alienating the affections of Muybridge's wife. The photographer was judged to be not guilty.