Contours Of The Land

Photographer Captures Man's Touch On Nature

Hartford Courant, March 28 2006

By STEVE GRANT
Courant Staff Writer

Andrew Buck of
Farmington says it was never his conscious decision to take so many photographs of farmland.

"But for some reason or other, I have ended up shooting a lot of farmland, primarily the tobacco fields in
Connecticut and the farmland in northwest Ohio."

Drawn to landscapes where the influence of humans is obvious and often long established, he is at work these days photographing some of the more notable trees of
Bushnell Park in Hartford.

"Spaces like parks and farms, where we've put our stamp on the landscape and really created our own landscape within the natural landscape, that type of thing attracts me more than just plain natural spaces," he says.

But what Buck sees through his lenses is something considerably beyond the literal. These are photographs as art, photographs where technical mastery is but a starting point, a sort of palette for the creative eye.

Buck wants you to see what he saw, to see "what things look like, or what I think they look like, or what I want them to see. Because I like to see what things look like photographed."

Your opportunity is at hand. An exhibition of Buck's tobacco-farming and
Ohio farmland photographs begins April 6 and runs through May 5 at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor. A portfolio of his photos also can be seen on his website, www.andrew-buck.com.

Sometimes, using specially built cameras, Buck works in black and white, a medium with a limited following these days.

"Sometimes color gets in the way, and it distracts you from what you are looking at," he says recently during an interview in
Bushnell Park. "One of my interests is making abstract images out of things. If you take color away from it and make it just black and white, then it is more easily seen as abstract."

So it is with, for example, "Tobacco Panorama 4," a lyrical view of tobacco netting and a tobacco barn in a 7-inch-high by 54-inch-long photograph. It is probably safe to say that few people would come upon this scene and see what Buck saw.

"I just loved the shapes and the forms of the barns and the covered fields, the big white covers. The gauze covering the fields, to me, just made these beautiful abstract sculptures and, in turn, abstract photographs," he says.

"It just happened to be farmland."

Likewise, in a series of photographs taken in Northwest Ohio, where he has relatives, Buck captures in monochrome an image of the Midwest today, its miles of so-flat farmland layered with the ever more complex infrastructure of modern life.

In "Near Pemberville," another long, linear image, homes and barns in the distance are diminutive, even vulnerable, beneath massive power transmission lines that not only dominate the landscape but are menacing.

Buck, a software specialist in the workaday world, is a quadriplegic as the result of an accident in early adulthood. Many of his photographs are taken from his wheelchair.

You may see him at work in
Bushnell Park in the coming months. He hopes to make a calendar of images of interesting trees in the park.

It's his kind of landscape - scores of exotic and native trees, not in any way wild but rather planted, people and nature joined, a sort of tree farm where the crop is harvested with the eye, and the camera.


[Note This article was accompanied by 4 images.]