Martin Warenczuk is a Wellington-based landscape photographer. To capture the power and beauty of nature, he travels to some of New Zealand’s wildest untamed places, and the vehicle that gets him there is a Suzuki Jimny.
Growing up in Poland, Martin began his love-affair with photography when he was just nine. A neighbour taught him the basics of ‘drawing with light’ and his parents’ wanderlust gave him the opportunity to explore; “One time my Dad showed us a video about New Zealand. I watched it over and over and promised myself that one day I would go there and have an incredible adventure” says Martin.
True to his word, Martin’s been living in what he calls “a photographer’s paradise” for 12 years now. To help him explore the country’s most remote places he bought a new Jimny Sierra auto in 2015 from Brendan Foot Suzuki in Lower Hutt. The large station wagon and SUV he had previously were expensive to run and not always suitable for rugged drives.
A friend suggested the Jimny saying it was simple, versatile, well-built and very popular among farmers. This last part got Martin’s attention and a test drive convinced him. “It’s as economical as a small car, it handles well around town, and it’s purpose-built for off-road adventures” he says.
“No job is too big for the Jimny, whether it’s a family trip to the beach, a photo shoot in town, or an off-road light-chasing adventure.”
Martin’s Jimny has a few custom extras; cross rails with a kayak holder, a tow bar, Bridgestone all-terrain tyres, fog lights, and DIY sleeping boards in the back. Martin explains; “As a family we spend a lot time kayaking, we especially enjoy the wild part of Whanganui River and remote parts of Abel Tasman National Park. I also kayak around Somes Island in Wellington Harbour where I take photographs.”
The tow bar is mostly used to carry bikes. Martin’s boys Dawid 14 and Lucas 8, love mountain biking and they often ride Tunnel Gully in Upper Hutt or Makara Peak in Wellington. “We’re spoilt for mountain biking options in Wellington,” says Martin.
With the Jimny spending a lot of time off-road, upgrading the all-terrain tyres made sense and the fog lights are a must for driving on narrow mountain roads as they illuminate ‘hard to see’ obstacles such as holes, bumps, and rocks. A hands-free device is also essential equipment these days – especially if you work from your car. The bluetooth allows Martin to connect his iPhone to make calls safely and play music to keep him company when he's in remote places.
Sometimes Martin works, eats and sleeps in his Jimny. Landscape photography requires a lot of patience, so he often finds himself waiting for the ideal light, a perfect storm or that magical time of the day when nature reveals its beauty. Martin’s DIY solution is a set of sleeping boards that fit on top of the folded seats to maximize the Jimny’s interior space. They’re so good they look factory-made.
“I especially enjoy taking photographs on the coast and recently received permission to access Wellington's East Harbour Regional Park by 4WD. This is a great privilege and responsibility. I enjoy the drive, confident that I can produce a stunning image if I get to my favourite spot before sunrise.”
Martin’s advice for aspiring landscape photographers? “Mother Nature can be very generous to those who get up early. Travel, shoot often, stay up late and be persistent.”
Of course, having a Jimny helps, but Martin also recommends wearing clean underwear. During a shoot in the Tararuas he ran out of cloths to keep his lenses dry. Then he remembered the story of a photographer in a similar situation who managed to dry his camera and take a photograph which later made him famous. His secret was to use the only dry piece of clothing he had left – his underwear. What happens in the Tararuas stays in the Tararuas, so let’s just say Martin made some sacrifices for his art and emerged with a stunning photograph. ‘Forest Light’ (top left) has since featured in several exhibitions.
You can see more of Martin’s stunning images in his new book Journey Along The Coast the first in a series named Wellington & Beyond released early July.
Photography © Martin Warenczuk 2017
phone: +64 4 889 05 25mobile: +64 211 52 77 93