Photography is a major tool of tornado investigators. Detailed examinations of still pictures and careful photogrammetric analyses of motion pictures have provided the scientific community with much valuable information about tornadic structure and airflow. Journal articles, textbooks, and items in the popular press frequently include pictures of tornadoes. Such pictures are usually well received, reflecting the widespread general interest in this natural phenomenon.
In the 19th century, when photography was developing into a mass medium, a few intrepid early adopters pointed their glass plate cameras at one of the most intimidating natural forces on Earth: the tornado. With whipping winds, accompanying rain and hail, and that foreboding electric coolness in the air, tornadoes are no easy subject — especially given their unpredictable paths of destruction.
Below are some early tornado photographs from the late 19th century: