Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

The Images of Arthur C. Pillsbury, Ansel Adams and owned by Rick Norsigian
Who took the photos and what is at risk for the Adams Family today?

          In about 2000 Richard Norsigian purchased a box of glass negatives and other items, all related to photography.  Included were envelopes containing nitrate film.  The envelopes accurately identified the images within.  Frightened that the nitrate film might explode, as he had been told nitrate film might do, Rick disposed of it.  
​         He then began considering who might have taken these photos.  Some research followed.  Leroy Radanovich, then official photographer at Yosemite and the expert on Yosemite photographers and such relevant issues as what systems they used for cataloging their photos, told Rick to contact Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, which Rick did in 2003.  Pillsbury-Foster agreed to come by and view the images the next time she was on her way to Yosemite.  Viewing the images she said they appeared to be very like those of her Grandfather, Arthur C. Pillsbury, who was the Official Photographer of Yosemite from 1915 until he was forced out of the Valley at the end of 1927.  These were Production Photos, taken of well known Yosemite and Monterrey locations which were marketed as postcards and to be framed.  Cropped, these had also been used for other purposes.  A typical 'shoot' by Pillsbury included multiple photographs taken to fulfill orders for books, newspapers, and other publications along with orders from other postcard producers, for instance, Detroit Publishing Company.  
​         Pillsbury's business was set up to provide very affordable products with beautiful and naturally accurate images to the public as part of his mission, which was to deepen the understanding of nature.  In this way, he believed, people would empathize with all forms of life and so be moved through their understanding to preserve them.  

Pillsbury Image
​Taken with Post Card Camera

Norsigian Owned Image                                           1a.Norsigian's "Jeffrey Pine On Sentinel Dome"

Pillsbury Image
1c.Pillsbury Camp Curry Postcard of "LEANING PINE ON SENTINEL DOME"                                      

   1d.The "Ansel Adams" photo of "Jeffrey Pine On Sentinel Dome" that TEAM NORSIGIAN says matches their "found negative":                                    

   1e.Magic Lantern Slide by Pillsbury of "Jeffrey Pine On Sentinel Dome" that TEAM NORSIGIAN says matches their "found negative":                                    


1e.Pillsbury hand-colored lantern slide: "TREE ON SENTINEL DOME, YOSEMITE" [bought on EBAY by Charlotte Anjelica Kieltyka]:
2a.Norsigian's "Vernal Falls" Print:
2b.Pillsbury hand-colored lantern slide of "Vernal Falls" [bought on EBAY by CAK]
2c.Pillsbury print of "Vernal Falls" from pg.89 -"YOSEMITE AND ITS HIGH SIERRA" by John H. Williams 1921 ed.:
3a.Norsigian's print of "Gates of the Valley":
3b.Pillsbury hand-colored lantern slide of "THE GATES OF YOSEMITE":[confirmed by Alan Ross (A.Adams expert) to match the Norsigian (3a):
"I agree that the tree in question IS in both images ...That being the case, it would seem that both photographs were made by the same photographer – whomever that might be, at the same time with the same camera.  Not Adams.
4a.Norsigian's "Bridal Veil Falls" print:
4b.Pillsbury's "Bridal Vail Falls" postcard No.1036 - [NOTE: misspelling of "Veil"]
4c.Another Pillsbury postcard of "Bridal Veil Falls" - No.22:
5a.Norsigian print of "Bridal Veil View from Road":
5b.Pillsbury Postcard No.16  "Bridal Veil Falls" (from Road):
6a.Norsigian print of "Nevada Falls - Profile":
6b.Pillsbury print of "Nevada Falls - side view" from pg.45 - "THE YOSEMITE" by John Muir 1912:
6c.Pillsbury print of "Nevada Falls" from pg.84 - "YOSIMITE AND ITS HIGH SIERRA" by John H. William, 1914 ed.
6d.Hand-colored lantern slide of "Nevada Falls":
7a.Norsigian print of "Yosemite Falls from the Merced River":
7b.Pillsbury photo from Nation Park Service (NPS) Portfolio "Yosemite - Land of Enchantment"
"The Yosemite Falls" - Photograph by A.C. Pillsbury:
7c.Pillsbury photograph of "Yosemite Falls from Merced River" from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery:¬word=&d=&c=&f=&k=0&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&total=315&num=20&imgs=20&pNum=&pos=26#_seemore
7d.Same Pillsbury photo - but printed and cropped like Norsigian photo (7a):
7e.Same Norsigian photo (7a) to compare with above Pillsbury photo:
7f.Same Norsigian photo - but printed like the Pillsbury photo from NYPL archive (7c):
7g.Same PILLSBURY photo (7c) - but cropped like Norsigian print:
8a.Norsigian print of "Mirror Lake and Mt. Watkins" (video still) from documentary trailer:
8b.Pillsbury print of "Mirror Lake and Mt. Watkins" from pg.53 - "YOSEMITE AND ITS HIGH SIERRA" by John H. Williams 1914: