Our Idyllwild: The Art of Avery Field
A few years after we came to live full time in Idyllwild, we met Shirl Reid of the Idyllwild Area Historical Society . We had been thinking of volunteering at the Society, as we had experience with digital work, and thought they might need something. It turned out that, two days prior, Shirl had been tasked by the Board to go find someone who could do their first digital scans of a collection of medium and large format exposures by one of Idyllwild's earliest photographers: Avery Field. The photos in the collection were largely taken in the middle to late 20's, a time when Idyllwild was just coming into it's own for the first time.
The almost 150 large negatives were difficult viewing for the naked eye. Many were decaying from age. Either they were loosing emulsion or, in some cases, the silver negative had become too dark over time. And so, the Historical society had this tantlizing mystery in their hands, of Idyllwild back in the day.
For our part, we took multiple scans of each of the negatives for different exposures so we could blend them in post and compensate for the decay. Though they were celluloid black and white, we had heard that a kind of latent color might be present in original negatives and wanted to find out. We scanned each negative in full (3) color. You can see the results starting at 14:25 of the video. In this case, we pumped up the saturation for better viewing but the pinks and greens and browns are real and present in the original negatives.
When we were done we decided to produce the following, rather cinematic slide show for many of the key members of the Historical Society. It was presented in three parts; The People, The Architecture and The Land and featured a grand, though "borrowed" soundtrack. But matching the affection that Avery Field showed in his own pictorial view of our mountain more than 90 years ago. The photos created became the museum exhibit called: "The Art of Avery Field", one of Idyllwild's first (and part of a long succession of) photographers who would find themselves on this mountain.
A handful of people saw this originally and then a few more just once again at the Rustic Theatre, some years ago. We thought if might be fun to show it again, if only to get sappy about an Idyllwild gone-by which is still so similar to Idyllwild of today. If you live, or have lived in this wonderful place, you'll likely recognize many things in these photos, if not yourself.