Photography

The Final Turn


Come on...let's go!

This was shot on the final corner as the horses were exiting the last turn before the run to the finish. What is fascinating about this shot is if you look closely at the horse to the left, all hoofs are in the air! This was a huge topic of debate at one time not long ago!

In 1872, former Governor of California Leland Stanford, a businessman and race horse owner, had taken a position on a popularly debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse’s hooves are off the ground at the same time during a gallop. Up until this time, most paintings of galloping horses showed the front legs extended forwards and the rear legs extended backwards.  Stanford sided with this assertion, called “unsupported transit”, and took it upon himself to prove it scientifically. Stanford sought out Muybridge and hired him to settle the question.

Muybridge used a series of large cameras that used glass plates placed in a line, each one being triggered by a thread as the horse passed. Later a clockwork device was used. The images were copied in the form of silhouettes onto a disc and viewed in a machine called a Zoopraxiscope. This in fact became an intermediate stage towards motion pictures or cinematography.

In 1877, Muybridge settled Stanford’s question with a single photographic negative showing Stanford’s racehorse Occident airborne in the midst of a gallop. This negative was lost, but it survives through woodcuts made at the time. By 1878, spurred on by Stanford to expand the experiment, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion.This series of photos taken in Palo Allto California, is called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop or The Horse in Motion, and shows that the hooves do all leave the ground — although not with the legs fully extended forward and back, as contemporary illustrators tended to imagine, but rather at the moment when all the hooves are tucked under the horse as it switches from “pulling” with the front legs to “pushing” with the back legs.  www.kerstenbeck.com
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