Thermal Inversion and Rare Sea Clouds

By Eric Kruszewski


Bio: Eric Kruszewski is a photographer and videographer with National Geographic Creative who has traveled the world creating compelling editorial-style visual content for top organizations and media outlets. He is based in Washington, D.C. and has been recognized with awards from Travel Photographer of the Year and National Geographic.


I had never been to the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina, so when a photo editor asked me to document a rare weather phenomenon there – thermal inversion leading to a sea of clouds in mountain valleys – I had mixed emotions. I was excited to travel, explore the area and document the event, but I was also nervous that my lack of local knowledge would lead to not succeeding with the assignment. Fortunately, I had several weeks to research the area and prepare for the journey.


Knowing I would only have three days to capture the story, I gathered as much information about the area as I could before going. I discussed my needs with a local communications expert at Explore Asheville’s Tourism Office who was eager to share loads of advice. She also introduced me to two other local individuals – a photographer who intimately knew the mountains, and a scientist who studied the weather patterns. They were extremely helpful in determining the best time to arrive and selecting locations to see the weather phenomenon. Because of their assistance, I was able to capture these visuals.



Tip: When photographing a new destination, allocate extra time to scout locations. Ask the locals – most are excited to share information about the place they call home. Utilize Google Maps to see street-level or 3-D views. Download an application that shows the sun’s path – a good one is Sun Seeker – to help setup landscape images.


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