A strong cumulonimbus cell flashes over the Pacific Ocean south of Panama City. (Santiago Borja)

Storms can be as beautiful as they are deadly. From the ground, they can provoke fear, awe and an appreciation of nature’s raw power (or the need for an umbrella).

But what do they look like from above?

Turns out, that perspective offers views even more beautiful.

Santiago Borja is an airline pilot who has witnessed some truly wild storms from his cockpit. He keeps a camera on hand to capture the flip side of nature’s wrath, and his images range from eerie to breathtaking. Now Borja’s work is a coffee-table book, “Pictures by #TheStormPilot,” which pairs 60 of his in-flight photos with scientific explanations of the phenomena pictured. You’ll learn which clouds are which, how lightning forms, and more.

The result is a book that teaches as it astonishes. Each lengthy caption is presented in English, German and French, but Borja’s aerial photos cut through the wordiness with ominous piles of clouds, lightning and glimpses of the sun and faraway landscapes.


Lightning pierces the sky over the Caribbean on a dark April morning. (Santiago Borja)

A cockpit is its own little world, and Borja’s photos capture that effect. He looks out on a vista that few spend much time with, and does so with an admiring eye. His work has won spots in prestigious galleries and gained a healthy following on Instagram. The book offers a chance to step away from the screen and spend quality time with the images themselves.

Every storm is ephemeral, but Borja’s camera has pinned down a few spectacular ones. “Pictures by #TheStormPilot” brings science to the party, but the book’s real appeal is its dreamy, moody cloudscapes.


Borja’s photos are not limited to weather systems: Here, the lights inside a cockpit blend with a view of Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Santiago Borja)