The fun is just beginning with the Ansel Adams trove. CNN finds some alternate theories of who might have taken the images in the trove of negatives. Miriam Walton has an identical print of one of the “discovered” images and says it was taken by her “Uncle Earl:”
“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.
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.
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.”