David Plowden has produced 20 books, including his recent ''Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden,'' published in 2010 by W.W. Norton. In 2017, the Milwaukee School of Engineering Grohmann Museum exhibited his "Steel: The Cycle of Industry" collection and repackaged a photo book of the same name, which chronicles steel from its start as taconite pellet mines in Minnesota to the blast furnaces of Gary, Indiana, and from its shipment across the Great Lakes to the demise of the mills in places like Lackawanna, N.Y.
Plowden's photographs are characterized by their stark detail. In the steel mill photos, the artist attributed this to shots he would overexpose and under develop. On his subject matter -- steam engines, small town Main Streets, steel mills -- Plowden said: "I have always felt that I have been standing in the middle ground between two eras, with one eye on the 19th century and the other on the 21st ... all across America we have left abandoned, like carcasses after the feast, that which only yesterday was state-of-the-art invention."