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This is going to be a quick message in response to numerous emails I have received concerning some glass plate negatives purchased by a Mr. Norsigian at a California garage sale, and which he attributes authorship of to Ansel Adams.  He now seems to be claiming that the plates have been "authenticated" at a value of $200,000,000.  The Norsigian group contacted me earlier this year, and I have seen jpegs of all the images.  I do not believe they ARE the work of Ansel Adams.  See below for my opinion.


Sig on clear

CNN Newsbreak:
"Experts: Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale worth $200 million"

Interestingly enough, the New York Times has not seen fit to provide coverage of this claim as yet.

The images in the Norsigian
collection do seem to be the work of a competent photographer working in Yosemite, San Francisco and Carmel.  In a format used by AA in the late 20's.  The camera locations are similar to known Adams favorites - but then, most of those were primary tourist viewpoints offering an obvious place to plant a camera.

Some of the images are of yachting scenes on San Francisco Bay.  Nothing of any similarity in subject or format exists in the Adams Archive.  LIkewise some utterly bland images of a Spanish-style mission.

A major claim in the voice for authenticity is that one image - I believe of the Jeffrey Pine on Sentinel Dome - shows some same/similar cloud formations as exist in a known Adams image. Anyone who knew Ansel also knows that he very often had fellow photographers at his side - either by invitation or coincidence - when he was out photographing.  The clouds could easily have been recorded by a different camera a few feet away.

The plates seem to show signs of fire damage.  Yes, Ansel's Yosemite darkroom caught fire in 1938 and a number of prized negatives were lost.  For me, this is the weak-link/downfall of the authenticity claimants.  Ansel was working with a 6.5x8.5 plate camera when he did Monolith in 1927.  The fire was in 1938.  A good number of negatives made prior to the fire had been printed many times - Pine Branches in Snow comes to mind, for one example.  As well as I know Ansel's work, and as far as I have otherwise heard, not ONE authenticated AA print from ANY of the Norsigian plates is known.  If it was a good image - and some of these are - Ansel couldn't have NOT resisted making more than one print of each - and even then SOME would have survived to exist in Ansel's own archive or in the collections of photgapehr and Sierra Club friends.

They are some nice images, but I cannot believe they are the work of Ansel Adams.

And 200 million dollars is ______.  You fill in the blank.
Techincal Note de jour:

Still doing some digital work for prints - and I have to say that it is a LOT harder and more frustrating than getting into the darkroom and making a silver print.  And when all is said and done, Silver still looks a LOT better!  To me.  :)

Workshop Updates

Road Trip - September 20-25:  FULL!  Check out the DETAILS!

Yosemite - October 11-15, 2010:  Crafting the Fine Black-and-White Photograph, at the Ansel Adams Gallery.  Fall is a wonderful time of year in Yosemite.  The water is usually low, but we often have a storm come through to change that!  The high country of Tioga Pass is still open and a field trip over to Mono Lake is a favorite part of the week. Multiple field sessions, film processing, darkroom demos.  Digital workers welcome!

Ongoing personalized workshops: Other commitments allowing, I am available for 1-on-1 sessions and small groups - my place or yours.  These are completely custom workshops with focused topics ranging from: basic to advanced camera work, the Zone System, Selective Masking, Printing or ...?!  It's your show. Check out the Schedule and Openings page and my Workshops page for more details.

Always remember, the "Oh! Zone" must be preserved!


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