Film Folk: Trenton Michael Davis

Location: Los Angeles & Salt Lake City, USA
Genre: Landscape
Camera count: 8 (hopefully no more)
Film stock of choice: Kodak Portra 800

Tell us about your path to becoming a photographer.
It all started with the classic Canon 5D DSLR. A company that I was working for had purchased one and I had the opportunity to take a few photos with it outside of the office. I was stunned at the magical 3D effect that its full frame captured. To me, that made photographing anything interesting. As the digital age progressed, and more and more megapixels were added to lines of cameras, I began to feel a little exhausted with the general look of digital. I’d eventually discover a few images on Flickr that really stood out to me. There was a special tonality and dynamic range across the entire frame that I’d never seen before. Turns out, these images were shot on film! At the time, I thought film was dead…so then began my new research into the topic and discovery of others who were also shooting it.

What do you primarily shoot with and why is it your weapon of choice?
My primary landscape camera is a Pentax 6×7 MLU with the 55mm F4, 105mm F2.4, and 200mm F4 lenses. To me this was a bit of a blind purchase that I had found at a great price, and couldn’t pass it up. When I had my first roll of landscapes and portrait developed and scanned, I fell madly in love. Seeing my shots with such a gigantic field of view gave me the understanding of what makes medium format so incredible. The detail and micro contrast was amazing to me. This was that look that I had seen and loved about old film photographs.Is there a particular reason you only shoot Kodak? Have you experimented with other manufacturers?
I think I chose to shoot on Kodak because Fuji 400H was too expensive at the time, and cheaper consumer films just looked too dirty for what I was going for. I also liked that Kodak had various stocks available such as Portra 160, 400, 800, as well as Ektar 100 (fantastic film for landscape work).

Perusing your website you appear to favour landscapes and portraiture, what draws you to these subjects?
I am honestly not entirely sure why I like landscapes so much. Aside from finding great evening light, colors and gradients that film captures, and fine details on 120 film, I think I just really enjoy the process of capturing those images. It’s me, usually alone, with a huge landscape and a single roll of film. There’s a lot of peace in those moments for me. Portraits are just for paying the bills! But I do really enjoy the occasional test portrait to try out new ideas.Tell us about the most interesting person/place you’ve photographed or project you’ve worked on.
I had the opportunity to work a job for a financial company that required my buddy and I to travel to most of the western US National Parks to photograph and film in. This was a perfect opportunity to get out and capture a glimpse of these amazing places that I had no idea were so monumental in US natural history. My top favorites were Yosemite NP, CA and Monument Valley, UT/AZ.How did your journey begin with developing and scanning, and when did you start processing for other photographers?
As I was learning about and testing various film labs in the US, the developing and scanning costs were always something that was hard to swallow…especially when I wanted to test out a certain film stock or technique, and I wanted to see the results faster. So I did some research and discovered a few local shooters whom personally owned the same scanner (Fuji Frontier SP3000) that the pro labs use. I ended up purchasing an older model Frontier scanner from one of them and finally began learning, firsthand, about the scanning process. Those days are complete nostalgia for me now and I loved the experience. Shortly after that, I ended up selling the SP2500 and purchasing an SP3000 for higher scanning resolutions and the dust removal (Digital ICE) feature.

Just like a camera brings in a return on the initial investment, the scanner was essentially the same for me. So, I began scanning for a few close friends as a way for me to get better at the process and provide them access to more affordable scanning services. What made you choose the Fuji Frontier over other scanners?
I chose the Fuji Frontier scanner because of the unique colors it captures in the scanning process. Sometimes I don’t even feel the need to make any adjustments to an image after it’s been scanned. I run a roll through the scanner and that’s it! I’m done with editing. However, after learning about the high res capabilities and contrast flatness of the Noritsu scanners, I can see why others would choose to go that route, but for the time being I am very happy with my setup.

We can see from your website, your talents extend into video. Have you shot any on film?
I’d love to shoot a small commercial or short on film…but I need the funds first!

Who inspires you in the photography world?
I’m not even sure anymore. There are so many talented shooters out there posting content every day. I think some of the greats like Ansel Adams are an inspirations but it’s mostly my close photo friends who also shoot a lot of film portraits and landscapes. If you don’t have a camera in your hand, what will we find you doing?
Eating breakfast all day, drinking coffee, and playing video games.

Mac or PC? Macbook Pro for remote work but PC for the horsepower
Kodak or Fuji? Kodak
Colour or B/W? Tough one but I have to say that color wins in the landscape world
Frontier or Noritsu? Frontier for the color output
Self-Develop or Lab? Lab for now, maybe self-develop one day soon
Portrait or Landscape? Landscape
Lightroom or Darkroom? Lightroom
35mm or Medium Format? Medium format with hopes of finally getting around to developing that shot of 4×5 sitting in my closet
External or In-Built Light Meter? External handheld meter

Check out more of Trenton’s work on his website and follow him on Instagram.

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