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Eadweard J Muybridge's birthday celebrated in Google doodle

The British photographer has been celebrated with a Google doodle showing his famous picture of racehorses.

Head to the Google homepage today and you'll see a new doodle. It's celebrating the photographer Eadweard J Muybridge's 182nd birthday.

The British photographer is best known for his ground-breaking 19th century images of racehorses. Hit play on the doodle and it'll start up, giving you a taste of Muybridge's 'The Horse in Motion', a collection of shots that were made into a film strip using 24 cameras. They're widely regarded as one of the first forms of videography.

The horses were owned by Leland Stanford, a Californian businessman and animal breeder. Stanford was curious to see if the horses ever had all four legs off the ground at the same time when running, and commissioned Muybridge to find out. Oh how the other half live.

The result? All four did leave the ground at some points, but tucked under the horse rather than stretched out, as painters at the time depicted them.

Muybridge emigrated to the US and worked in publishing before becoming interested in photography while being laid up following a stagecoach accident. (You'd think horses would be the last thing he'd want to see after that.) His snaps of Yosemite National Park in the mid 1860s established his reputation.

In 1874 he was acquitted of the murder of his wife's lover, Major Harry Larkyns, a drama critic for the San Francisco Post. Muybridge's lawyer entered a plea of insanity following his stagecoach injury -- friends testified the accident had left him erratic and unstable. The jury found the killing was justifiable homicide under "unwritten law".

Muybridge's later work included motion capture of bison, and the use of a phenakistoscope disc to animate a couple waltzing. He died in 1904 of a heart attack, but his legacy lives on -- cartoons often reference his creations, and since 1991 the company Optical Toys has published his sequences in movie flipbooks.

Take a look at our top five Google doodles and let me know which is your favourite in the comments below. 

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