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Waited for several hours at zero degrees for the perfect shot

Be inspired and find out how to take a photo like the one below in this exciting tutorial "The Loneliness by a Cross Country Skier" by skilled 1x photographer Marei Hessel.

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 @38 mm, 1/400s, f/8, ISO400

Last winter I spent some days in the Bavarian Alps. The weather was not what I hoped it would be, it was overcast and snowy and around 0°C. On one of my walks I discovered an area, which is a gold course in the summer, explaning its strange appearance.

I noticed some cross-country ski trails. As I had noriced the subtle light of that day, and the strange emptiness of this place, so well groomed in summer and therefore so clean and empty, I decided to take a photo, but first to wait for a cross country skier to appear.

I choose a position that allowed me to compose the foreground as a wave, and the background to disappear in fog. My idea was to emphasize the emptieness of this scene, to show the vastness of nature around this little human, and at the same time his dynamic fighting against the elements.

i have to confess, that i have had better ideas in my life, and several hours of waiting for a skier began. Most of the time no one came and when someone appeared the skier was going in the wronge direction! After hours of waiting and feeling cold a skier finally came by and i could capture the image I was looking for.

Although the speed of the skier would have allowed for a slower shutter speed, I choose ISO400, as this is my usual setting. In my eyes this leads to more vivid colors especially in more monochrome scenes like this one.


I have a laptop with Windows 7. I am not a Photoshopper at all. I develop images from RAW processing with ACR. So I did here. I adjusted the whitebalance to 5700 Kelvin, which appeared nice to me. I opened it in Photoshop, and adjusted the contrast with curves, as such foggy days often lead to a bit flat contrast. I didn't have to sharpen the picture.


I do not think too much about messages or stories. I capture, what somehow impresses me, or what i feel. I am not a philosopher but a photographer. So what I think important is, that we, while shooting, we follow our emotions and feelings. Opening our eyes and hearts are what I think is most important.


After having worked for more than 10 years as night nurse, I now study social work at Hannover University, and I'm later going to study child and adolescent psychotherapy.

I am married to a wonderful photographer, Christoph Hessel, and together we do our passion, photography. My passion is nature and wild life photography. I love being outdoors capturing animals. So we already have planned some wonderful journeys, that hopefully offer some possibilities.

compliments, and happy to see you again Marei
Thank you,Marei for your tutorial and wonderful winter scene. I am well familiar with those skiers going the wrong direction or even worse, ruining the white, untouched snow by skiing all over the place.
Excellent photo and tutorial, Marei. Congrats for both!!
Great to see you here Marei, thank you very much for sharing your story behind this shot, it was a pleasure to read and to learn more about it ;) And lol for the skier going uphill :)
You know, Marei, I wonder about those skiers going the wrong way too. Don't they know it's a lot easier to ski downhill? :) It's such a pleasure to see you and your beautiful work in the spotlight. You always have a lovely, gentle yet strong and graphic approach to photography. Quite a dichotomy, but an obvious reflection of yourself in your work. My best to you and Christoph and Anni, the little one who is isn't quite so little anymore :)