Carterton balloon crash photographer Geoff Walker has walked free after a 14-hour detention in police cells in Uganda.

The freelance lensman had been detained after taking photographs near the Robongi Army Barracks in the Tororo district, which is about 230km from the state capital of Kampala.

Mr Walker, 60, told Radio New Zealand "he had not realised, as he took pictures of a sunset, that the building in the background was a barracks".

He said he had spent about 14 hours in a small concrete room with a half dozen other people and believed some influence had been brought to bear that led to his release.

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His friends in Uganda, which is 10 hours behind New Zealand, had posted initial reports on Facebook that Mr Walker had been arrested and detained and through the same social media channel reported his release about midnight Wednesday New Zealand time.

Mr Walker was on his latest humanitarian mission to the republic with the Side by Side project, working to help people in the village of Ludok, and Lions Clubs International.

He was the official photographer for a Wairarapa balloon ride in January 2012 that killed all 11 people on board.

Mr Walker launched a legal battle without success over the rights to some of the images, which were widely published early last year. He told media he had travelled to Uganda to escape memories of the tragedy.