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Portfolios: Santiago BorjaPortfolios: Santiago Borja

Cockpit view

First Officer Santiago Borja has a front-seat view from the cockpit of the Boeing 767-300ER he flies for a South American airline.

For the past six years, he’s taken his Nikon D750 camera with him and photographed some incredible views from around 37,000 feet, but it was this photograph of a cumulonimbus cloud as a lightning storm began that has gotten him the notice of the media and other photographers. The Quito, Ecuador-based pilot sent this photograph to National Geographic in July 2016, and it was featured on the website’s “Daily Dozen” of the best photographs from around the world. From there the photo went viral and Borja was interviewed and featured in The Washington Post, Lonely Planet, and other media sites. He was flying over the Pacific Ocean south of Panama when the thunderstorm began. “I like this photo so much because you can feel the amazing size of the storm and its power,” Borja said. “But at the same time it’s wonderful how peacefully you can fly around it in still air without touching it.”

Web: www.santiagoborja.com

Portfolio

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    En route to South America in a Boeing 767-300ER.
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    Sunset over the Colombian coastline.“My favorite experiences are when I’m flying and I get to see very rare atmospheric events such as storms, Atlantic sunrises, and some very unusual cloud formations. I take advantage of frequent commuting flights where I can sit in the back and take some photos and regular long-haul flights with extra crew where I can get some photos during my rest period while the other crew is flying the aircraft.”
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    Photographer and pilot Santiago Borja. “I primarily enjoy nature, landscape, and cityscape photography. Since I carry my camera everywhere, I started trying to capture storms and in-flight experiences some time ago, combining my two greatest passions: flying and photography. I’ve been flying this aircraft for the past six years and while photography started as a hobby, I’ve been doing it seriously for about three years now.”
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    Leaving Panama City behind,flying south.“This shot was taken while overflying the Pacific Ocean leaving Panama City behind us on a dark, moonless night. We’re at 35,000 feet and you can see Panama’s lights in the distance.”
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    The storm is precisely over Quito City and you can see the anvil fully developed as the storm reached the tropopause. “I’ve been flying commercial jets for more than five years and the trick about storms is that most of the time they are embedded into clouds, so you cannot actually see a single cumulus by itself. We’re climbing as we get into the Andes and we just came out of the broken layer of clouds that is seen below. It’s usually a lot more cluttered and bumpy, so it’s very rare to get this lucky.”
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    The Perseid meteor shower peaked August 11 and 12, 2016. “I am not sure if it’s one of the Perseids or just a satellite, but I couldn’t have asked for better timing.”
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    Borja titled this photo “Tormenta.” “An amazing thunderstorm flashes off the coast of Venezuela as we fly past it at 35,000 feet.”
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    A few miles off the coast of Miami, Florida. “This shot shows a thin yet very powerful cumulonimbus storm off the coast of Miami, while in flight at 34,000 feet en route from New York City to South America.”

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