A handful of experts are trying to prove what Rick Norsigian has suspected for years: that his garage-sale find of 60 glass photo negatives are the early works of famed California photographer Ansel Adams.
Norsigian, a 63-year-old antiques collector who works in the maintenance department of the Fresno Unified School District, bought the negatives for $45 in the spring of 2000. But they may be worth millions.
Some photography and restoration experts believe that the negatives may be Adams' early work -- pictures taken in the 1920s and early 1930s, before Adams became wildly popular.
On Thursday, the experts milled about in a conference room at a Clovis hotel, pointing to evidence that they say proves the negatives are the work of one of California's foremost nature photographers.
For example, they said, the negatives were found in manila envelopes with notes that a handwriting expert has identified as written by Virginia Adams, Ansel Adams' wife. Most of the photos were of nature scenes in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco -- two places that were often the subject of Ansel Adams' photographs.
The experts were hired by a Los Angeles law firm that has been working closely with Norsigian for three years.
The event Thursday was meant to drum up publicity for the photos and help set the stage for a possible exhibition of the glass negatives in Fresno next year.
Patrick Alt, a photographer from Culver City and one of the experts, said he believes the glass plates were shot by Adams, because "there was no one else other than Ansel in that time period doing this quality of work."
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