People ask where the new Loch Ness pictures are, but, unfortunately the latest pictures are owned by litigious individuals who are just waiting for someone like me to publish them so that they can sue. This is a really sad situation, but not one I can do anything about, no matter how much conference calling I do. You will find a picture on Mikko Takala's website, but I am afraid that there is nothing at all about it to convince me that it is anything other than a fake. Anyway, if you want the "new Loch Ness pictures" that is what you have to put up with. Many of the older "classic" pictures appear below.
1933 Hugh Gray Photograph
1934 Adams Photograph
1955 MacNab Photograph
196* Cockrell Photograph
1975 Shiels Photograph
When one considers how much of the frame the object occupies, it is remarkable that Mr Gray had no idea what he had photographed and only thought that it might be worth showing after he had had the picture developed.
While the picture is so bad that it could show absolutely anything, I like to think that Mr Gray actually photographed his golden Labrador dog swimming towards the camera carrying a stick in its mouth. I'm no artist, but have tried to show what I mean below. The blurring is caused by the box camera having too slow an exposure for a moving object.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it is a fair bet that Hugh Gray's picture has nothing to do with monsters in Loch Ness.
You may be surprised to find the above picture listed as a Wetherell photograph. For a long time it was considered to have been taken by a Colonel Kenneth Wilson, also known as the "surgeon" because he had a medical practice close to Harley Street. The picture became famous as the "Surgeon's Photograph" and is probably one of the most recognisable photographic images in the world.
In fact the picture was an elaborate hoax staged by Wetherell who can be seen centre right in the picture on the left.
Wetherell was a big game hunter who was commissioned by the Daily Mail in 1933 to investigate the Loch Ness Monster. Shortly after arriving at the loch he discovered footprints on the loch-side. He can be seen here examining them before plaster casts were taken and they were sent to the British Museum of Natural History.
It took the British Museum of Natural History some time to realise that the prints were from the left hind foot of a hippopotamus. One of the reasons it may have taken a while to identify was because it was made from a dried hippo foot, in fact a trophy ashtray which had been made from a hippo's foot. For years it was thought that a hippo foot umbrella stand had been used and it was only David Martin and Alistair Boyd's research which tracked down the actual object used.
When the hippo hoax was exposed, Wetherell was made to look rather foolish and was sacked by the Daily Mail. He decided to take his revenge on the world by creating a really good hoax picture. In order to add credibility they acquired the assistance of a practical joker, the Surgeon.
The rest is history. Some die-hards still refuse to accept that the Surgeon's picture was an elaborate hoax, using the second picture, shown below, as justification in that it shows the animal diving.
In fact the second picture was another hoax attempt, possibly taken at a different time or different part of the loch. If this was not the case how could the surface of the loch be so different between two pictures.
For decades this picture has been like an icon to the monster hunters and it will be interesting to see how the complexion of monster research will be changed by the demise of this image.
How the hoax was perpetrated is described in the book NESSIE - The Surgeon's Photograph by David Martin and Alistair Boyd. This can be purchased here. It's a really good read and extremely thorough.
One of the first organised expeditions was that of Sir Edward Mountain in 1934. Unfortunately they decided to pay unemployed workers to sit beside the loch with cameras. Worse still they offered a bonus for every picture obtained of the Loch Ness Monster. The results were predictable. One of the pictures is shown above.
This picture looks so much like the appendage of a large marine animal that it probably is one. Unfortunately Loch Ness is not a marine environment so draw your own conclusions.
Who's kidding who? This picture, with its angular humps, cannot be taken seriously. If Loch Ness Monsters behaved like this then they would surely have been seen more often. During the nineteen-seventies, Loch Ness Project member, Ricky Gardiner, lined up the exact point from where the picture was taken. It was found that the objects were in very shallow water.
Richard Frere, a well-known local author who died in 1999, actually watched Lachlan Stuart setting up his Loch Ness monster fake picture. It was three bales of hay covered with tarpaulin.
When the Webmaster published the fact that the picture was faked in his "Loch Ness - The Monster" publication, he received a poison-pen letter from one of Lachlan Stuart's friends ... which shows how well the photographer conned his friends. Recently his son called at the Loch Ness Centre and, surprisingly, he didn't know that his father had faked the picture either.
It must be understood, however, that if you are going to produce a convincing hoax you must tell no-one the truth.
Such is life.
The MacNab picture has never been anything other than controversial. Because Mr MacNab was a bank manager and therefore a pillar of the community, many promoted him as being honest and beyond the possibility of behaving in a fraudulent way. Unfortunately, even the bank managers of the fifties were not whiter than white and, frankly, no one is beyond bad behaviour as I know only too well from my experiences at Fort Augustus Abbey with Prior Francis Davidson who behaved very poorly towards me.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the Bank Manager - I had always had my doubts about the MacNab picture owing to the sheer size the monster would have to be to appear this large beside Urquhart Castle tower which is some 50 feet (15m) tall. Given that some of the monster must be forward of the first visible section and even more must lie to the rear, the animal would have to be between 60 and 70 feet (18 - 21m) long.
My uncertain doubts about the authenticity of the picture lingered until I visited the loch in 1976 and obtained a copy of Roy Mackal's book "The Monsters of Loch Ness". This really is one of the finest works ever produced on the subject and contains a detailed analysis of the MacNab picture.
As the book is out of print many subscribers will never have seen Roy's analysis and reasoning. I intend to paraphrase his findings here.
MacNab provided Roy Mackal with the "original" negative to study (shown below) and the mystery deepened instantly because, in the "original" the reflection of the top of the tower was missing as was the tree in the left foreground and some of the beach. Mackal diplomatically describes these discrepancies between the "original" negative and the print in Constance Whyte's book (shown above) as "curious". It is, of course, quite impossible for more of an image to appear in a print than appears in the original negative!
Trapped by the discrepancy, MacNab then claimed that although he couldn't remember clearly, he thought that he may have taken a second picture with a Brownie fixed-focus camera and that the Whyte print may have been made from this. Mackal observes that it is rather remarkable that a photographer armed with a high-power telephoto lens on a quality camera would choose to photograph such an amazing event as the surfacing of the Loch Ness Monster on a Brownie and, if he did, how could he not remember it.
Unfortunately for MacNab, Mackal's analytical abilities were to prove the downfall of that explanation as he showed that, even if only a couple of seconds passed between changing cameras, given the speed of the monster as judged from the narrow wake, it would have moved up to 30 feet (10m). The position of the monster, however, in relation to the castle, is identical in both images.
After further analysis Mackal showed that both pictures really had to be copies of the same image.
As Mackal delved further into the image provided by MacNab, he noticed other "curious" factors such as the fact that although Urquhart Castle tower is vertical, its reflection leans to the right in the picture.
Any artist and any person with even a rudimentary knowledge of the physics of light, will immediately realise that a reflection is always vertically below the object being reflected. Something, therefore, has caused the entire picture to become distorted.
There is one way to cause this distortion and that is to take an original print and re-photograph it carelessly, not getting the picture flat and in the same plane as the lens. If the photograph has been re-photographed once then it could have been done twice. Perhaps, between the two versions, the boat was painted out of the scene and the wake enhanced to produce one of the most famous pictures of all time.
I do hope Mr MacNab, who is now quite frail, will not go to his grave without admitting this hoax. I'm sure he had great fun concocting it, surely he could enhance his pleasure by telling how he fooled the world. Let's hope so.
Cockrell took this picture from a small boat. He was unsure what he had seen and the picture could be anything. Shortly after he took the shot he found a stick in the water. Enough said?
Also referred to as the "Muppet picture". I wonder why?
Until this year, although I have talked occasionally about my own sighting, the pictures I took have never been published before the issue of my February Newsletter, The Loch Ness Inquirer.
I've lived overlooking the loch for over twenty years and had only one sighting ... my wife has had no sightings and yet we have a large picture window which allows us to see many square miles of the surface. Nevertheless, I am approached no end of times by individuals who have spent only a few days here and are convinced they've seen something unusual when, of course, all they have seen is ducks, boat wakes or windrows. These individuals have no idea how daft they sound.