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The view from 32,000 feet is breathtaking. From this distance you are  above the clouds and get a bird's eye view of the weather. While it's now common practice to photograph clouds from a seat, pilot and photographer Christian van Heijst is even better at observing clouds from the cockpit. His photographs of clouds and weather provide far-reaching insights into thunderstorms, sunrises and the Northern Lights.

Some of them are tranquil and others dramatic, but they always showcase the magnificent appearance of our natural world.  One of van Heijst's most memorable shots is the lightning striking a thundercloud between Beijing and Shanghai. Here you can see the true power of Mother Nature, as the voluminous, fluffy form seems to have so much power that it is about to burst. In the distance we see the illuminated city below, seemingly unaware of the phenomena above. 

Flying is a lifelong occupation for van Heijst. When he was the age of 14, he started gliding and a few years later received his private pilot's license at the age of 18. Many years later he entered about 8,000 hours in his logbook and started taking pictures. He always keeps his camera within reach while  in the air and the rush of excitement  never lets up. "When I look at a strong Northern Lights storm or an active thunderstorm," he says, "I feel very small and insignificant compared to the unbridled energy, beauty and grandeur unfolding before me."

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