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Author Topic: 65 original Ansel Adams glass negatives found  (Read 4209 times)
Bradley Proctor
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« on: July 27, 2010, 02:47:24 PM »
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Story here
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2010, 03:19:05 PM »
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Quote from: Bradley Proctor

That's amazing.


And I thought I had made a smart purchase when I bought a few of Ansel's "Special Edition of Yosemite" prints in the 1960 for $6 each (mounted, signed, numbered on back.

Eric

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feppe
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Oh this shows up in here!


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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2010, 03:27:38 PM »
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From the article:

"I have sent people to prison for the rest of their lives for far less evidence than I have seen in this case," said evidence and burden of proof expert Manny Medrano, who was hired by Norsigian to help authenticate them. "In my view, those photographs were done by Ansel Adams."

This is probably not the most appropriate way to approach the subject...

Good story, though.
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duntov
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2010, 05:11:47 PM »
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OMG.  Just amazing.  I am glad they were preserved.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2010, 05:48:51 PM »
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Quote from: Bradley Proctor

I have to seriously disagree with that $200 million valuation. Someone is clearly dreaming. Yes, these glass negatives in one sense are "priceless", in that they are apparently original Ansel Adams images that were not printed. But no doubt a goodly number of them are thoroughly ordinary or even poor exposures. Like most artists, Ansel Adams' most valuable tool was his trash can. The countless ordinary, mediocre, even plain lousy exposures that never saw the light of an enlarger protected his reputation.

Furthermore, glass negatives are like digital RAW files. They're not photographs; they're raw material from which photographs may be made. Ansel Adams' central claim to fame was his devotion to interpretive printing and fine print quality. Any prints made from these glass negatives will require an asterix next to the "AA" provenance. Sure, it might be the master's negative, but it's someone else's print. Just look at the difference in price between an original print by Ansel Adams, and a 'special edition' darkroom print made from the exact same negative by the extremely talented Alan Ross. They may be visually indistinguishable (indeed, Ross's print may be nicer!), but they're sure not selling for the same dollar value.

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chex
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2010, 06:08:46 PM »
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Adams' negatives were calculated to record as much info as possible, his magic was in the print which is obviously not gonna happen now.

As for the vlauation, people are stupid, and stupid people will pay for them.
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2010, 08:48:27 AM »
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Is copyright going to come into play here? If these are, as they seem to be, AA's negatives, wouldn't his family own the copyright, thus have the right to restrict or even prevent having prints sold? They may, in fact, be involved. If so, I missed it.

Interesting enough, it appears that Alan Ross is not convinced that the negs are AA's. He's the only guy allowed to print from AA's original negs and was a long-time assistant. Iif anyone would could authoritatively comment on the authenticity, it would be him.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 08:53:22 AM by ckimmerle » Logged

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daws
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2010, 12:03:46 AM »
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Well, the fixative has really hit the fan...


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Controversy over 'lost' Ansel Adams photos turns negative

July 28, 2010

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A claim that several dozen glass plates bought for $45 at a garage sale were negatives from Ansel Adams brought an angry response of disbelief from the man who oversees the famed photographer's trust.

Adams' grandson is also unconvinced. Matthew Adams, who runs the Ansel Adams Gallery, said even if they are authenticated, they are not worth much beyond their historical value.

The art dealer who placed their eventual value at more than $200 million said Wednesday that the controversy is increasing their value by "driving the market to them."

"They're making them so desirable," said David W. Streets. "People all over the world are seeing this and saying 'I want one of each.'"

That controversy took a bitter turn a day after California wall painter Rick Norsigian and his lawyer held a news conference at Streets' Beverly Hills art gallery to say they have proof the negatives were created by Ansel Adams.

William Turnage, the managing trustee of Adams' trust, called Norsigian and those working with him "a bunch of crooks" who "are pulling a big con job."

Norsigian's lawyer, Arnold Peter, called Turnage's attack "a shameful and pointless disparagement of the professional reputations of some of the top leaders in their respective fields."

The team of experts included two court-qualified handwriting experts, a retired FBI agent and a former Assistant United States Attorney, Peter said.

Peter said that based on the overwhelming evidence they gathered "no reasonable person would have any doubt that these, in fact, were the long-lost images of Ansel Adams."

Turnage, who was Adams' business manager for before his death in 1984, challenged the expertise of Norsigian's team, saying the only one with art credentials was a "so-called expert that nobody has ever heard of from Jackson Hole, Wyoming."

"They had to go out into the boonies to dig him up," Turnage said.

Norsigian's lawyer responded by calling Turnage an "elitist."

"Ansel Adams would likely be shocked and appalled at such blatant arrogance and condensing commentary in his name," Peter said.

Turnage said Norsigian's strategy is to line up a long list of hired experts to tell "a big lie."

"Hitler used that technique," Turnage said. "You don't tell a small one. You tell a big one."

Peter said Turnage "has converted a professional disagreement over works of art into a personal attack utilizing tactics that are grossly offensive and unconscionable."

"Likening Rick Norsigian to Adolf Hitler is nothing more than yet another bullying tactics designed to silence Mr. Norsigian," Peter said.

Full text here.



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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2010, 03:08:23 AM »
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I feel obliged to comment, but what's to say other than 'if you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin's my advice,' which I believe I once heard Louis sing.

But, I suppose one should rejoice at the thought of any photographic stock going up through the roof, even if not in smoke...

Rob C
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 04:00:43 AM »
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Quote from: ckimmerle
Is copyright going to come into play here? If these are, as they seem to be, AA's negatives, wouldn't his family own the copyright, thus have the right to restrict or even prevent having prints sold? They may, in fact, be involved.
Their (Matthew Adams') position is that it probably can't be proven either if the negatives are Adams' or not.
<mode couch-potato-lawyer on>
I'd say the uncertainty about the origin would make the copyright claim a moot point?
Nevertheless, they still could claim the misuse of Adams'name?
<mode couch-potato-lawyer off>
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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There is no rule! No - wait ...


« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2010, 05:15:18 AM »
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Who is Ansel Adams ?
I don't need no Ansel Adams ....

/me grabs his P/S camera and goes out taking photographs at his favorite places ...

 
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2010, 09:07:36 AM »
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I think there has been a small error in all of the news reports so far. The $200 million estimate is more likely the amount that the lawyers on both sides are hoping to make out of this.
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daws
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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2010, 01:58:37 AM »
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Yeesh! The plot thickens...

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If not Ansel Adams, then who took garage-sale photos?
July 29, 2010

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- The mystery is deepening over who created 65 glass photographic plates bought at a California garage sale for $45 by a man who believes they were created by famed nature photographer Ansel Adams.

A fortune could ride on the answer, since an art appraiser estimated the negatives could be worth $200 million if they were Adams' work.

But "Uncle Earl" or "Pop Laval" -- not Ansel Adams -- may have taken the photos that Rick Norsigian discovered 10 years ago, according to relatives of those California photographers.

Nature photographer Ian Shive said the list of photographers who could have taken the pictures is short. "There were only a few people doing that kind of work at that time," Shive said.

Adams' grandson and the managing trustee of his photographs both dispute Norsigian's claim that Adams made the negatives.

"Uncle Earl"

An 87-year-old Oakland, California, woman was drawn into the debate when she saw the photos in a TV news report Tuesday night.

"I'm looking at the picture that's hanging on my wall and I knew that Ansel Adams didn't take them," Miriam Walton said. "I knew my Uncle Earl took them."

Her uncle was Earl Brooks, an amateur photographer who lived in the Fresno, California, area in the 1920s, the decade experts said the photos were taken.

The image that made Walton sit up was of Jeffrey Pine, a much-photographed tree on top of Sentinel Dome at Yosemite, California.

Walton made some phone calls and the next day she was visited by Scott Nichols, who owns a fine-art photography gallery in San Francisco.

Nichols studied Walton's print and concluded it could have been taken at the same time as the negative Norsigian claims was created by Adams. "The shadows are almost identical," he said.

Nichols tends to agree with Walton that her uncle, not Adams, was the photographer.

"I betcha two cents that the case," Walton said.

"A lot of people photographed Yosemite and did a nice job," Nichols said. "But when you look at an Ansel Adams, it says, 'I'm Ansel Adams.'"

Shive, who reviewed 17 of the images from Norsigian's collection, agreed that they do not show "the emotion and nature-as-art interpretive style" that marked Adams' later work.

"But all artists grow and their styles change, becoming more defined and perhaps their origins becoming unrecognizable when compared to their final destinations," Shive said. "That could easily be the case here."

Arnold Peter, the Beverly Hills lawyer who led Norsigian's effort to authenticate his negatives, said the fact that Walton has a similar print proves nothing.

Her relatives could have purchased it from a Yosemite souvenir shop where Adams peddled prints early in his career, Peter said. Or it could have been one of many Adams gave away as gifts.

There may be no way know if Walton's print is an Adams -- not an Uncle Earl -- photo, since thousands of Adams' Yosemite negatives were destroyed in a darkroom fire in 1937, Peter said.

"Uncle Earl may have taken them," he said. "Ansel Adams may have taken them or someone else may have taken them."

It's been about 70 years since Walton last saw Uncle Earl, who she described as "an early hippie." She inherited the photos when her father died in 1981.

She traces the photos to Earl Brooks because "Uncle Earl" is handwritten on the print, she said. She believes it was her father's writing.

"My father would not have had anything from anyone else," Walton said. "He wouldn't have had Ansel Adams."

If it is proven her uncle did create Norsigian's photos, Walton said she does not want them.

"I'm getting to the age now that I don't want stuff," she said. "I'm trying to get rid of stuff."

"Pop Laval"

Another photographer on the short list of those who might have made the negatives is Pop Laval, a commercial photographer in the Fresno area from 1910 until 1965.

William Turnage, the managing trustee of the Ansel Adams Trust, said it was an "interesting wrinkle" in the mystery of the negatives.

Laval created more than 100,000 negatives, including many mountain images at Yosemite in a style similar to Adams. He also photographed the same San Francisco landmarks seen in the Norsigian photos.

His son, Jerry Laval, interned with Ansel Adams, according to great-granddaughter Elizabeth Laval, who manages the Pop Laval Foundation.

Laval said she when she first saw the numbering system on the manila envelopes that contained Norsigian's glass plates she thought "Oh, my god, these are Pop's."

"Surprisingly, the envelopes look exactly like Pop's envelopes," she said.

Like Adams, Pop Laval was meticulous in numbering envelopes to keep track of his thousands of negatives, she said.

Professional photographers in the pre-computer days also kept ledgers to note shoot locations and dates, she said.

But the theory that Laval authored Norsigian's photos hit a snag when she opened his ledger. His numbers that correspond to the Norsigian plates show he would have been shooting elsewhere on those dates.

"I have to assume they were not his," Laval said.

Bitter debate

When Ansel Adams died in 1984, he left his 40,000 known negatives in a trust managed by William Turnage, who reacted with anger when Norsigian and his lawyer, Arnold Peter, claimed at a news conference Tuesday that their negatives were Adams' work.

Turnage called them "a bunch of crooks" who "are pulling a big con job."

Peter called Turnage's attack "a shameful and pointless disparagement of the professional reputations of some of the top leaders in their respective fields."

He said that based on the overwhelming evidence gathered by a team of experts, "no reasonable person would have any doubt that these, in fact, were the long-lost images of Ansel Adams."

Adams' grandson, Matthew Adams, is also unconvinced. "I don't think that they've proven that they are authentic ... And I don't know that you could ever prove that they are."

Adams, who reviewed Norsigian's evidence last year, said he wanted more scientific tests, including carbon-dating, to prove beyond a doubt that the work was that of his grandfather.

He cited "a number of inconsistencies," including the conclusion by two handwriting analysts that notations on manila envelopes containing the plates were made by Ansel Adams' wife, Virginia Adams.

The envelopes had five misspellings of well-known Yosemite National Park landmarks, he said. "Bridal Veil Falls" is misspelled twice as "Bridal Vail Falls" and "Happy Isles" is misspelled "Happy Iles," Matthew Adams said.

Virginia Adams -- who spent most of her life in that area of California -- would have spelled those names correctly, he said.

Full text here.
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2010, 10:27:45 AM »
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Here's a small, but interesting, side-by-side comparison of an alleged AA pic alongside Uncle Earl's. Even at this small size, it seems pretty likely that the cloud formations are very, very similar, thus the photos may well have been shot only minutes apart.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/celebrity....natives/?hpt=C1
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2010, 10:34:21 AM »
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Actually, they're Mine! I did them all! Back in the '20s, when I was about, say, ~-15 years old. And here is Absolute Uncontrovertible Proof!!!   

These are two images I took of the Very Same Jeffery Pine that is mentioned in the articles. The first is the one that Uncle Earl, Uncle Ansel, and Uncle Pop all copied later on:

[attachment=23410:LRCalif7...60_12BWL.jpg]

And this one is obviously much earlier, before the little tree grew all of its needles:

[attachment=23408:Calif91_63_30BWL.jpg]

 

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luong
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« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2010, 01:28:54 PM »
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Quote from: Eric Myrvaagnes
And I thought I had made a smart purchase when I bought a few of Ansel's "Special Edition of Yosemite" prints in the 1960 for $6 each (mounted, signed, numbered on back)

A great purchase, Eric. My understanding is that when Turnage started marketing Adams in a big way in the 70s, he had Ansel stop signing the "Special editions".
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2010, 06:32:43 PM »
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Quote from: luong
A great purchase, Eric. My understanding is that when Turnage started marketing Adams in a big way in the 70s, he had Ansel stop signing the "Special editions".
My understanding is that Ansel printed the earliest "Special Editions" himself (as he describes in "The Print" -- how to print 100 identical prints!) and signed his full name; and later when he had the prints made by assistants, he approved the prints and initialed them ("A.A."). I got a few at prices ranging from $6 to $15 in the late '60s, all which his full signature. Once the price went above $15, I decided I couldn't afford more of them -- alas!

It may have been Turnage's doing that resulted in both the price increases and the initials in place of signature. The "Special editions" were still a fantastic buy.


Eric

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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2010, 04:43:46 PM »
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Eric, surely your prints would be worth a good deal nowadays?  I'd say you got a bargain there.
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daws
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« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2010, 10:28:22 PM »
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Los Angeles Times, 8-8-10


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Ansel Adams garage-sale find debunked? Experts say Yosemite shots are by Earl Brooks

Rick Norsigian's 10-year quest to prove that he turned up a trove of "lost" Ansel Adams photo negatives at a Fresno garage sale now has a rival explanation advanced by Norsigian's opponents: They were taken by a heretofore unknown photographer from the Fresno area named Earl Brooks.

The suggestion was made July 27 by Brooks' 87-year-old niece, the same day that Norsigian made headlines by proclaiming that his find had been validated and was worth $200 million. Now, Marian Walton's theory has been endorsed by Adams' former business manager and two of the famed photographer's assistants. They shared their evidence with The Times this weekend.

Arnold Peter, the Beverly Hills attorney who is helping Norsigian market the pictures and a documentary film about his find, last week issued a rebuttal to numerous criticisms raised about the Norsigian claim. If prints attributed to Walton's long-dead Uncle Earl indeed turned out to have been created from the Norsigian negatives, Peter said, it only proved that, at some point, Ansel Adams made prints from the negatives, and they somehow found their way into Earl Brooks' hands.

Norsigian held a packed news conference July 27 at a Beverly Hills art gallery to reveal what he and his team of hired experts said was conclusive proof that his 65 old-fashioned glass-plate negatives of scenes from Yosemite and coastal California were previously unknown pictures that Adams shot during the 1920s and early 1930s.

The conference made the evening news in the Bay Area. Watching TV in her den in Oakland was Walton, a former secretary and grandmother of four whose family hailed from the Fresno and Visalia area. She saw Norsigian's picture of the Jeffrey pine on Yosemite's Sentinel Dome flash on her screen. "Oh my gosh," Walton thought to herself. "That's Uncle Earl's picture!" She didn't even have to get out of her chair to make the comparison -- it was hanging on the bathroom wall, in clear view from where she sat, she said in a recent interview.

Walton called the TV station, KTVU, and the next day, after her weekly tennis game, she got a visit from a reporter and Scott Nichols, owner of a San Francisco photo gallery that did a considerable business in Ansel Adams prints. Nichols took the Jeffrey pine picture and three other Yosemite shots from Uncle Earl that Walton had kept in a drawer.

KTVU did a story on Walton's picture, with Nichols saying there was only a minute difference between it and the one on Norisigian's website, which the Fresno school district employee had posted as one of 17 images he'd begun selling for $7,500 for a hand-made print, $1,500 for a digital one and $45 for a poster.

Nichols told The Times last week that the slight differences in the tree's shadow and the clouds behind it were probably caused by a short time lapse between the taking of each picture. Everything else -- the focus, brightness and angle, were the same. It was the best evidence yet, he said, of what he and other dealers, as well as Adams' family and professional circle of former assistants already had concluded: that Norsigian's negatives had been shot by somebody other than America's greatest nature photographer.

On Friday, Nichols sent digital images of Marian Walton's four pictures to William Turnage, Ansel Adams' former business manager and now managing trustee in charge of granting the rights to publish or copy Adams' work, and to Alan Ross, John Sexton and Rod Dresser, photographers who worked closely with Adams as his assistants during the 10 years before his death in 1984.

Last year, Norsigian's team sent Ross 61 of the images, hoping he would confirm that they had been taken by Adams. He didn't. So, Ross was able to make comparisons not just between Walton's prints and the 17 pictures Norsigian had published, but also to most of the Norsigian find.

The findings: One of Walton's prints, showing Old Inspiration Point road in Yosemite, is a seemingly identical match to an unpublished Norsigian image, Ross and Sexton said in e-mails that Turnage shared with The Times.

Two others were close matches, the two former Adams assistants said, differing slightly in such details as the shape of water spray at Bridal Veil Falls -- suggesting they were different takes from the same photo session.

As telling as the identical photos showing the park entrance road, said Nichols, were flaws in one of the slightly different waterfall pictures. The Norsigian negative of the falls and the almost-identical print belonging to Walton had identical scratches and white spots, Nichols said Saturday, meaning they were taken by the same camera, whose internal imperfections -- possibly, specks of dirt --  registered the same on each image.

Nichols said that with three pictures either identical or apparently from the same photo shoots, it's enough to prove that the entire Norsigian find must be the lost work of Uncle Earl, not Ansel Adams. Sexton noted in an e-mail that, "now, of course, the Norsigian crew will claim that Uncle Earl didn't make the four photographs" but must have bought them from Adams or at Best's Studio, the Yosemite photography store that sold Adams' work. Adams married Virginia Best, daughter of the studio's owner, in 1928. The studio remains in business as the Ansel Adams Gallery, with their grandson in charge.

In an interview last week, Sexton told The Times that conclusive proof could well lie in the negatives themselves. Because all 44,000 Ansel Adams negatives are archived at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, a physical comparison should be made between Norsigian's negatives and identically sized glass negatives from the archive -- with particular attention to clear spots along the negatives' borders that invariably were caused by the wooden holders and metal clips used to slot the glass plates into old-time cameras.

Mark Osterman, an expert on photographic processes at the George Eastman International Museum of Photography in Rochester, N.Y., and Paul Messier, a Boston-based photographic conservator with high-profile expertise in photographic authentication, said last week that such proof could be telling if there were distinctive irregularities in the known Adams negatives that had been caused by the plate holders. Because photographers used their holders over and over, Norsigian's negatives should then have the same unexposed clear spots as the known Adams negatives. Messier said other useful comparisons could be made by testing the chemical composition of the two sets of glass plates, and their emulsion residues.

Walton said she had owned the four photographs since her father's death in 1981; he told her they were taken by his older brother in 1923.  Walton said she last saw her uncle in the late 1930s, when she and her parents paid a visit to the ailing man in Visalia, not long before his death.

She said she didn't know much about Earl Brooks, other than that he married twice and liked to take pictures. "He had an adventuresome spirit. He did travel around a lot," including a stay on a commune in an eastern state. "I don't think he had much schooling, but he was a good photographer."

As for Norsigian, "I may burst his bubble," Walton said. "I'm not trying to do anything but get to the truth. I hate to see anybody taken advantage of on the premise that he has what he thinks he has."


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