About this artwork

Buckham was the leading aerial photographer of his day and was renowned for his atmospheric shots of the landscape. He felt that the most spectacular cloud formations and dramatic light could be captured on “stormy days, with bursts of sunshine and occasional showers of rain”. Over the years Buckham amassed a vast collection of photographs of skies which he could integrate with a separate landscape photograph to enhance the drama and create a more impressive composition. This photograph of the landscape over the Pentlands Hills near Edinburgh demonstrates this technique. It also illustrates another feature of Buckham’s photographs in the perfectly positioned silhouette of a biplane against the broken clouds, which Buckham would have painted on later.

Alfred G. Buckham

Alfred G. Buckham

Alfred Buckham's first ambition was to be a painter, but after seeing Turner's pictures in the National Gallery, he returned home and made a bonfire of his own work. He was the first head of aerial reconnaissance for the Royal Navy in the First World War and later a captain in the Royal Naval Air Service. After crashing nine times he was obliged to undergo a tracheotomy and was discharged as a hundred per cent disabled. Nevertheless, he continued to take aerial photographs with a heavy plate camera, leaning perilously out of the aeroplane, where his delight in picture making greatly increased the risk of accident.