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The images on this website were taken during four extended trips to New Zealand in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.

For me, panorama photography is an ideal means of expressing my fascination for this country. Coming from Europe as I do, my fascination is primarily a result of being constantly mindful of the huge distance from my home country. This ever present feeling of distance is accentuated by the sheer vastness of the terrain. New Zealand’s terrain is an abundance of diversity that leaves you with the impression that the diversity simultaneously imposes structure and constraints on the vastness. To my mind, the diversity, rather than confining the vastness, actually makes it tangible. The terrain’s faces, while often merging seamlessly into one another, still retain their own distinctive topography, and leave the observer both astonished and impressed.
With almost no trace of human existence, the sky over New Zealand appears as an unspoilt scene. Aircraft vapour trails are largely absent, which in my mind reinforces the extension of the terrain into the heavens and the sensation of distance, and is a testament to the secluded geographical location of the country. New Zealand has much that is familiar to Europeans, but much that I perceive as unique.

My intention is to communicate this diversity with all its purity and beauty.

During my first seven-month stay in New Zealand in 1999, I had with me at all times a 35mm film camera (a Praktica Super TL1000 made in East Germany with a 28mm wide-angle lens). I have been taking photographs since I was 14, and from the outset aspired to do more than just take snapshots, yet my knowledge of photography did not go far beyond correctly interpreting the light meter display in the camera.

After my return from New Zealand in 1999, it was not long before I realised that if I was to capture the vast expanse of the terrain, the light and the unique atmosphere of New Zealand, then I was not going about it the right way.
And so I began to devote myself more intensely to photography. As a result of my skeptical attitude towards digital photography, which at the time was beginning to gain prominence, I became passionate about using black and white 35mm and medium format. After spending several years and prolonged periods without daylight in the darkroom, I came to see digital photography as sufficiently advanced that in 2005, I ventured into the realm of digital panorama photography. In 2006, I undertook my second trip to New Zealand, this time with far better equipment than seven years earlier. In 2008, 2012 and 2014, I made three other trips, which were devoted exclusively to panorama photography.

Some technical details:

The images were taken using a Canon 20D (2006), Nikon D300 (2008, 2012) or Nikon D800 (2014) and a NOVOFLEX VR system PRO panorama head with focal lengths between 28mm and 50mm in portrait format.

The panoramas consist of between three and 82 individual images, which results in a maximum image size of 396 MP for the largest panorama. All of the panoramas from 2006 are single-row. The panoramas starting from 2008 have from one to three rows.

To cope with the often challenging contrast conditions in the motives and to attain a balanced tonal value spread in the final image, the majority of the panoramas consists of at least two (and at most four) coextensive panoramas with different exposures. Unlike the HDR panoramas, the individual exposure levels are manually mixed, that is, no automated processing is applied to the panoramas except for the stitching itself. No colour or saturation corrections were made, so as to achieve as authentic an optical impression as possible.


Axel Werner