photo: © David Moenkhaus - all rights reserved 773 612-4166

Polaroid Dinosaur

This image was made in South Dakota and is  from a series  I’ve completed documenting the high plains of the US on Polaroid Type 55 film. I used an old Crown Graphic 4X5 camera to photograph the High Plains of the US over a period of 13 years . My travels through South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana every year for 13 years provided me with a great opportunity to document on Polaroid 4X5 film, what I saw in the small towns of the High Plains and on the land, the beautiful land. What guided me was the incredible wild, wide open beauty of  those states as well as the decay of the small rural farming towns in those states.

Being from glacially carved  northern lower Michigan, then living for more than 20 years in a particularly flat area of the Midwest  made travelling through and exploring the High Plains a monumental and beautiful experience. One that I can never quite get enough of.

The first trip I made “out west” was 3 weeks from start to finish and I drove approximately 3500 miles.  Seeing the High Plains up close and personal, travelling through places like the Sandhills of Nebraska made me become a junkie for the high wide and handsome landscapes of that part of the west in the US,  forever. I loved it so much I went back every year for 13 years and brought my  4X5 Graflex with me every time.  Often on my  journeys through the American west,  I brought along  the familiar white Polaroid bucket and processed the Type 55 negatives in hotel rooms along my route.  Moving through and photographing that amazing landscape was awesome,  and I eagerly looked forward  to checking into a room in a small motel in say Rock Springs, WY or Rapid City, SD  at the end of the day and processing my film after a full day’s work.  I usually shoot way into darkness so often I wouldn’t get a room until very late at night. It was exhilarating driving through a beautiful landscape, photographing it then processing the film in my little motel room at night.  I even strung up a nylon cord in the room to air dry the negatives while I slept.

I really miss Polaroid Type 55 film. The big negatives have a beautiful, silky quality.  I even loved the smells of the sodium sulphite developer and the pad impregnated with chemical fixer used to fix the positive print from the Type 55 film.

I carried the little treasures – the beautiful 4X5 black and white negatives – back to Chicago every year and once I had cataloged and filed them, I  immediately began planning the next year’s trip to the High Plains.


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