December 16, 2015 Travis Dewitz

Best David Plowden Photography Books Ranked


david plowden best photography books ranked

David Plowden Photography Books Ranked from Best to Worst

This book list features the photography books of David Plowden. David Plowden is a well known American photographer who has documented a vanishing America since the 1960’s. I have ranked his books starting with what I think are his best based on content, photo, size, and quality to name a few.

“I have been beset, with a sense of urgency to record those parts of our heritage which seem to be receding as quickly as the view from the rear of a speeding train. I fear that we are eradicating the evidence of our past accomplishments so quickly that in time we may well lose the sense of who we are.” David Plowden

How to Use

This David Plowden book list is subject to change as more books are added. All the titles on this list I have personally viewed or I own. Below each title is a list of information about the book. This information comes from my copies, as other versions may exist. Photographs: This describes if the book contains a variety of color and/or black and white images. Main Image Style: This describes the images in the book being more traditional in nature or dramatic or artistic. Content: This will let the reader know what they should expect regarding how much text is in the book. Text means there are pages of writing and captions indicate that text is limited. Recommended: A 1/10 scale of my personal rating of the book. This is based off the overall quality and value the book has to me. Many factors come into play including photos, print quality, size, layout, content, page count, and how well it covers it’s subject.


small town america plowden bookSmall Town America

Recommended | 10/10

This is one of my most prized books out of my entire collection, not just out of Plowden’s titles. His photographs in Small Town America, document these town from the inside out including portraits of the people that live in them. I would highly suggest adding this book to your collection.

In this, his 19th book on the American scene, David Plowden turns to a part of American culture that was once commonplace but is now in danger of being lost or forever transformed. With his photos and engaging text, Plowden has created a vivid portrait of “small town America” that will be instantly recognized–and mourned. 111 duotone photos. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and White amazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text and Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 160




Requiem for Steam The Railroad Photographs of David PlowdenRequiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden

Recommended | 10/10

As a child, David Plowden was given a box camera, and before long he began to photograph railroad trains. As he matured and started on what would become a lifetime in photography, trains―specifically steam locomotives―became one of his passions, and then they were eclipsed by modern diesel locomotives. It is our good fortune that Plowden was on the scene at the end, documenting what would become this book, his reverent tribute to the steam era. 140 tritone photos. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 200


 
Industrial Landscape bookIndustrial Landscape

Recommended | 10/10

A landmark retrospective of the career of one of the most acclaimed documentary photographers in America. Plowden has trained his attention on the remains of America’s industrial past, capturing the vanishing rural and industrial landscape and its relics. This collection of his work accompanied a series of retrospective exhibitions, and represents the photographer at his best. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and White amazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Images
Time Period | Historical to Present
Pages | 148


 
A Time of Trains plowden bookA Time of Trains

Recommended | 9.5/10

The author’s fascination with steam locomotives has resulted in a stunning photo book that has captured the last few signs of the steam era before it vanishes altogether. 130 duotone photographs.  Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text and Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 160



The Hand of Man on America plowden bookThe Hand of Man on America

Recommended | 9/10

A collection of images that shows the striking effects of industry and development on the American landscape. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 136


steel-david-plowden-book-coverSteel

Recommended | 9/10

In this book, photographer Plowden turns to the subject of the steel industry, from quarry and mine to the refinery, the steel mill, and the final product. A wonderful, in-depth look at one of the most ubiquitous and influential materials in American life and work. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 143



Bridges The Spans of North America plowden bookBridges: The Spans of North America

Recommended | 9/10

Whether built of wood, stone, iron, steel, or concrete, bridges have captivated our imaginations more than any other man-made structures. In David Plowden’s words, “there is no more overt, powerful, or rational expression of accomplishment―of man’s ability to build.” And Americans, in particular, have excelled in this structural art. This book explores in depth how, when, where, and by whom the most important North American bridges were built. Over 185 of Plowden’s superb photographs allow us to dwell on the most important scientific and aesthetic qualities of each bridge. In addition, Plowden has included original designs and drawings of structures―some unbuilt, gone, or dramatically altered―illuminating less obvious aspects of these engineering marvels and introducing us to bridges we otherwise would never have seen. In his extensive text, Plowden vividly records the discoveries, misconceptions, struggles, failures, and triumphs of the men who dedicated their energies to bridge design and construction. In the more than twenty-five years since this classic book was first published, bridges have been lost, and others have been built; some of the best examples of new bridges are included in this new, revised edition. All the photographs have been reprinted to achieve the best duotone reproduction. With this new edition, Bridges is the most thorough and beautiful volume ever published on the subject―a passionate and powerful argument for our continued reverence of these wonderful structures. Over 185 photographs. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical to Present
Pages | 328



a-sense-of-place-david-plowden-book-coverA Sense of Place

Recommended | 8.5/10

Thoroughly illustrated with black and white photos by the author. Another beautiful book of vanishing America by photographer Plowden, this one documenting the landscape and people of rural Iowa and their agrarian way of life. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
  Black & Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 158



The End of an Era The Last of the Great Lake Steamboats plowden bookThe End of an Era: The Last of the Great Lake Steamboats

Recommended | 8/10

Since the mid-1850s when coal-fired, reciprocating-engined steamboats were first heralded as a swift and reliable method of freight transportation, these majestic vessels have criss-crossed the Great Lakes transporting everything from coal to iron ore and cement. Until the advent of the diesel locomotive engine, the speed and efficiency of the lake freighters was unchallenged. Today, however, the massive fleet has been reduced to a handful, and soon may be extinct. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
  Black & Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 155


Iron Road A Portrait of American Railroading plowden bookIron Road: A Portrait of American Railroading

Recommended | 8/10

Richard Snow has provided an intriguing, off-handed history of American railroading–its technological development, economic impact, odd characters, legends, and lore. David Plowden has contributed some handsome, often stirring photos of railway operation. But seldom do the twain meet, and almost never to specifically illustrate the text–which almost always cries out for illustration, for the kind of contemporary documentation found in the American Heritage volumes. Another problem is the fiat, picture-book format, which suits an audience considerably younger than that addressed by Snow’s lightly sophisticated text. He’s dandy on such relative esoterica as the confrontation between clergy (no Sunday operation) and commerce, the constructive role of hoboes, the transformation of “”The Big Rock Candy Mountain”” from a bitter, ironic ballad (sung by a cynical hobo) into a utopian hymn “”to the land where the hoboes’ road ended.”” And he’ll tell you tho whole story of Casey Jones and the song that bears his name. But exactly who will settle down to the text–and more or less disregard the inappropriateness of the pictures–is hard to determine. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden and Richard Snow
Photographs |
  Black & Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 90


A Handful of Dust Disappearing America plowden bookA Handful of Dust: Disappearing America

Recommended | 7.5/10

Since making his earliest documentary photographs in the 1950s, David Plowden has honored those proud structures and places that America has discarded; from brawny commercial and industrial centers to small towns and farms. He reveres the honest work and spirit that built them. But the scene has changed much in the last five decades, and what’s left of the honesty of small communities and the working of the land is all but gone, dealt a death blow by outsourcing, conglomerization, and our incessant drive to buy cheap at any cost. The America of these photographs is a bittersweet reminder of things once cherished and a life no longer possible. Deserted Main Streets and crumbling facades stare at us blindly. Abandoned houses and buildings reach back to ground. Plowden’s work is a sad symphony; incomparably and irresistibly beautiful, while reminding us of our loss. 77 duotone photographs. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
 Black and Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical to Present
Pages | 128


Farewell to Steam A Thrilling and Intimate Portrait plowden bookFarewell to Steam A Thrilling and Intimate Portrait

Recommended | 7.5/10

An earlier book by Plowden, devoted to documenting the waning years of the steam age, specifically the grand old steamships, paddlewheel boats, and locomotives that moved vast numbers of people and freight across America. An appreciative and nostalgic look at these great machines in their last active years. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
  Black & Whiteamazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 154



floor-of-the-sky-david-plowden-bookFloor of the Sky: The Great Plains

Recommended | 6.5/10

This was the first Plowden title that I had bought. I was very confused by all the praise I had heard about his work as I just did not connected with the images in Floor of the Sky. I felt the continuity of the book was poor and the images just were not as powerful as expected. I almost never bought another Plowden book after this purchase. As you can see above, I have since bought many of his books, some of which are at the top of my book pile.

Sierra Club New York 1972 Quarto, pp. 128. Illustrated with numerous b/w and color photos. A beautiful book of landscapes and portraits from the Great Plains region by one of America’s best documentary photographers. Read Customer Reviews

Author | David Plowden
Photographs |
  Black & White and Coloramazon_button
Main Image Style | Artistic
Content | Text & Images
Time Period | Historical
Pages | 128


Travis Dewitz Portrait_web

About the Author
Travis Dewitz is a professional photographer located out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He has been published in many books and magazines including many in the railroad industry. He does a lot of photography work and environmental portraitures for many companies and heavy industries in and around Wisconsin. He has grown up with trains and railroads are one of his passions that he pursues. His railroad photography can be seen on his website The Railroad Collection.

 

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