About this artwork

This spectacular shot of the landscape around Peebles highlights Buckham’s willingness to fly in the depths of winter despite the freezing conditions in the plane’s open cockpit. Although unbearably cold, he recalled that “the air… is so splendidly exhilarating that the discomfort is little felt until the blood begins to circulate freely again”. The sense of scale is enhanced in this image with the small silhouette of a biplane visible against a wispy, white cloud. This is an example of Buckham’s artistic manipulation of his images, which included combining atmospheric photographs of the sky with his landscape shots alongside painted aircraft, all of which enhance the composition.

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.