Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Hugh Gray Photograph Revisited


Date: 12th November 1933
Time: About Noon
Location: Near mouth of river Foyers
Witnesses: Hugh Gray
Type of sighting: Water/Photograph

This comes under our Classic Sightings series but the difference with this event is that a photograph was taken. And if a photograph is taken, you can bet the swords were drawn out in the pursuit of cutting it up and dumping it in the "hoax" bin. In fact, it already has been but let's see how far we can get with this iconic picture.

Hugh Gray is well known in Loch Ness Monster circles as the man who took the first photograph of the Loch Ness Monster. I say "Loch Ness Monster" because I believe the photograph to be genuine and part of the evidence portfolio. The picture that generally circulates is shown below:



The Daily Record took his picture and Mr. Gray gave the following account to the newspaper having been interviewed by Hugh Mackenzie (the future Provost of Inverness), Peter Munro representing Hugh Gray's employers at the British Aluminium Company and a Daily Record staff member:

"Four Sundays ago after church I went for my usual walk near where the river enters the Loch. The Loch was like a mill pond and the sun shining brightly. An object of considerable dimensions rose out of the water not very far from where I was. I immediately got my camera ready and snapped the object which was two or three feet above the surface of the water. I did not see any head, for what I took to be the front parts were under the water, but there was considerable movement from what seemed to be the tail, the part furthest from me. The object only appeared for a few minutes then sank out of sight."

The tenor of the account suggests some throwing up of spray and water as the presumed tail beat about the waters and hence caused some blurriness around that region of the picture. Mackenzie described Gray as a man highly respected by his fellow workmen, employers and locals. Likewise, the Daily Record had the negative examined by four experts who deemed it as untampered. It caused a stir, was panned by zoologists and faded along with general Nessie-lore as the World entered into war six years later.

Twenty two years on, Constance Whyte visited Hugh Gray in May 1955 who still had vivid memories of that day in 1933 and also recounted five other times he claimed to have seen the monster over those decades. Whyte's account can be found in her book "More Than a Legend".

Tim Dinsdale also recounts in his book "Loch Ness Monster" how he visited Gray in April 1960 and described him as "a most courteous individual" as he took him to the spot of the sighting. He spoke with "complete conviction" about that day as well as maintaining an accuracy of his account. He also added some detail of his other sightings which partly consisted of rapidly moving bow waves with no visible cause.

What remains of the photograph today is uncertain. A few prints have been extant over the years but the negative appears to have been lost forever. In this Internet age, one original print scanned from a book tends to win the day and become the prevalent image. But there are possibly three images currently about depending how you view them.

Firstly, however, was the reaction to the picture from the skeptics. Zoologists of the time summarily dismissed it or suggested unlikely explanations which does not surprise anyone who is familiar with the phenomenon. Leading Nessie debunker Maurice Burton suggested Gray had actually seen an otter sporting in the water and even displayed a picture in his book "The Elusive Monster" (below) to simulate how such an animal could produce the image on the photograph.


Ronald Binns had other ideas and in his book "The Loch Ness Mystery Solved" indulges in some innuendo when he said that Gray was a "leg-puller" and implied that he had hoaxed the picture. How Ronald came to that conclusion was rather circuitous. First he claimed to have identified the spot where the picture was taken and said that there should have been some foliage visible in the picture. He does not state why he assumed the tree growth had not significantly changed in the intervening 40 to 50 years nor how he fixed on the alleged spot.

A further reference to an "A. Gray" from a May 1933 issue of the Inverness Courier is also presented as evidence. This particular Gray was reported as contriving to use hooks, fish bait and a barrel in an attempt to capture the monster at Foyers. Binns speculates he may be the same Mr. Gray and hence a bit of a practical joker. This is in complete contrast to the character references we have stated above.

Steuart Campbell in his 1996 book, quotes Dinsdale as suggesting the photo looks retouched and also mentions the prevalent theory today that the photograph shows nothing more than a dog swimming towards the camera with a stick in its mouth. Admittedly, Dinsdale is ambivalent on the picture and seems uncertain as to what it shows. As a result, he commits neither way to it and simply moves on. However, it is doubtful Dinsdale regarded Gray as a faker given what he said about him.

In terms of analysis, Ted Holiday was the most enthusiastic supporter and saw the picture as a major piece of evidence to support his idea that the monster was a giant invertebrate. In fact, in his "Great Orm of Loch Ness" book, he conducts a close examination of the picture which to him reveals evidence of some warts, a slime sheet, neck segmentations and two appendages. However, the clarity of the photograph is not high and this is partly down to the fact that the creature was throwing up spray at the time as well as some over exposure being present on the film.

Nevertheless, the detail on the film is fascinating and has evoked various explanations. The worst one is that this picture shows a dog swimming. Now this is a case where the front of the brain should ignore what the back of the brain is telling it. The visual cortex is expert at searching for and extracting patterns and this particularly applies to common images which the brain expects to encounter regularly. It is up to the higher brain functions which sceptics champion to process this and reject it as not possible. Unfortunately, some higher brain functions have decided this is a convenient explanation to get rid of this picture and move on.

So I repeat, there is no dog in the picture. It is an example of "simulacra" where an image of something is perceptually superimposed over what is the actual reality. This phenomenon has become popular in news media tales of how somebody could see the face of Jesus on their toast (and then sells it on eBay). The fact that you may be able to see a dog is besides the point. There are three reasons why this should be discounted.

Firstly, and by way of experiment, I found a good photo of a dog swimming in the same posture. It is shown below (copyrighted property of 123RF Limited under Free License). I then fired up my image processing software on Windows to layer this and the Gray photo. The process is simple.


1. Take the dog picture and then layer over it the Gray picture.
2. Resize the Gray picture until it is the same size as the dog picture.
3. Draw in circles to fix where the right eye and nose on both pictures are and align them.





4. Use the opacity slider on the software to vary the transparency of the real dog image to compare and contrast key areas.


What is the conclusion? The Hugh Gray "dog" appears to be missing half of its face on the right. There is no recognisable eye or ear to fill in the complete picture. There is a splash to the right where the ear should be. I don't see how they can be accommodated in the Gray image even by my over zealous visual cortex.
The other problem is that there appears to be nothing recognizable as a stick. There is a very sharp shadow line where the creature meets the water which does not compare well with the actual dog/stick picture. The other problem is the "snout" in the Gray image is more elongated. Note that the real dog has his muzzle raised and spread out to accommodate the stick. In fact a dog will tend to raise its muzzle above the water to aid breathing. The "dog" in this picture appears to have its mouth too close to the water.
The final observation comparing the two layered images is the distinct water line of the object which is far too clear cut for what is expected of a dog swimming.

The second argument against Fido is that the popular version of the Gray image doing the rounds is not the original. In true media fashion, it was retouched to make it more legible to their readers. Rupert Gould says it was retouched in his 1934 book and this is reiterated by Peter Costello in his book "In Search of Lake Monsters" where he lays the blame with the Daily Telegraph for touching it up to emphasize the waterline. This may have been the retouching that Dinsdale referred to earlier in this post.

How this was exactly achieved is not known but increasing the contrast of the image looks to have been part of the process with the resulting over-emphasizing effect on the "dog" image.
You can recognise this particular print by the two scratch lines that radiate from an imaginary central point towards the bottom of the picture. It is best in these cases to get the most original image and as luck would have it another print came into the hands of Maurice Burton in the 1960s which were made from glass lantern slides in 1933 for E. Heron-Allen. Importantly, these contact positives were made from the original negative and represent the best untouched picture of what Hugh Gray saw that day. It is this picture that we used in the layering experiment above and is reproduced below courtesy of Janet and Colin Bord's Fortean Picture Library.





Compare this with the retouched version above and you will perhaps begin to understand the problem at hand. Unfortunately for most of us, the visual cortex having conditioned itself to see a dog will continue to prise a dog out of the picture.

The final clinching and perhaps most important argument is the general structure of the picture. Ask yourself one question - where is the rest of the dog? Look at the real dog picture and you will see a bow wave and its back causing turbulence to the rear of the photograph. Now look at the Gray photograph. There is absolutely nothing behind our supposed dog head. That is because there is no dog body and hence there is no dog head. To get a clearer vista, here is the Heron-Allen picture in the most uncropped form that I could find. Note the continuity of the wave patterns suggestive of no forward motion by the object in the picture.



Now it may be objected that this is a double exposure of a dog but this will not wash either. The Daily Record had the negative examined by Mr. M. Howard of Kodak and Mr. C. Clarke of the Kodak Magazine as a safeguard and they stated there was no tampering of the negative. In the unlikely event they failed to spot a double exposure one would still expect the rest of the dog image to disrupt the clean wave patterns we see.

There is no dog in this picture, keep telling the rear of your brain this important message! In fact, the problem has the potential to compound. On his own Loch Ness website, Tony Harmsworth, explains the dog theory to readers by producing two photographs. The first is the retouched image from the Daily Telegraph and the second is his further touched up version which for experimental purposes emphasizes some dog features in order for people to see this "dog" (see link).

Fair enough, but if you see the second photograph anywhere else, disregard it. In fact, given the propensity for copying and pasting on the web, it will migrate under the pretense of being the original photograph (in fact, it already has on at least one website).

Sadly, this points out the problem with properly critiquing such theories today. I am surprised that this dog theory could have lasted for so long yet the conclusion is that sloppy research sidestepped the issue because it was a convenient explanation for an awkward picture. The lack of Nessie "believers" in proportion to Nessie "sceptics" perhaps explains this but we move on.

So if it is not a dog, then what is the image showing us?

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the Loch Ness Monster!

So much for my opinion but if sceptics overextend themselves in extracting a dog from the picture then was Ted Holiday equally over zealous in seeing slime sheets and warts? Quite probably Holiday had a better resolution picture to magnify given that silver based film has a higher DPI than modern digital cameras. However, that depends on the quality of the film and how enlarged his print was. This is how he interpreted the image:



1. Neck with head submerged.
2. Neck segmentations.
3. Anterior hump.
4. One of several wart-like vesicles.
5. Anterior parapodium.
6. Sheet of slime.
7. Posterior Hump.
8. Posterior parapodium.
9. A wave.

Examining this in the light of the Heron-Allen image, it is not certain that (1) is a neck though it does appear to slip under the water. Likewise with (2), (4) and (6). However, the light patch marked as (6) and the wave at (9) do look like lighter patches over or on the surface of the creature. I say this rather than defects on the film (such as over exposure) because the two patches create corresponding lighter reflections on the water line below. The two small light "balls" above (5) which were erroneously taken to form the "dog's ear" also look interesting features, possibly water cascades? They can be more clearly seen in the Heron-Allen image above.

The "parapodium" or appendages are certainly there but the overall shape of the animal that Holiday draws is not correct in my opinion. In fact, thanks to this better photograph, we can see that the outline of the creature extends beyond the wave at (9) to the right. In fact, the wave is not all its seems. The "wave" looks as if it is rising then curling down to fall but this is an illusion - it is water spray plus something else.

If we zoom in and display that part of the creature there appears to be some kind of stubby, conical like morphology present which can be traced partly into the spray. There is also a suggestion of something like drips dropping from this feature and creating their own little concentric ripples below. To confirm its solidity, note how this conical feature casts its shadow on the water below.





What it however depicts is a matter of some conjecture but that there is some kind of face present with open mouth and an eye is a reasonable one. I don't think this is another case of the visual cortex filling in the blanks as this is a clearer feature than the barely visible "dog" and it casts a shadow on the waters. The annotation below attempts to describe these features. The dark interior of the mouth and what may be a tounge can be seen with the suggestion that the head is partly turned to the camera.



The spray to the left is real and not a picture defect in my opinion. It is into this water formation that the head disappears and it is hard to make any deductions about any neck from that point onwards though clearly it cannot be of a great length given the proximity of the body. The position of the presumed eye suggests a more fish like that cetecean appearance as whales and dolphins have eyes beyond the end of their mouths and not above it. However, no dorsal fin is visible, though this is not such an issue for fish such as the eel. Thinking of an eel in this context immediately brings to mind Roy Mackal's thick bodied eel interpretation of the creature. Putting this together gives a rough outline of the creature's body below.



The "parapodia" are marked as per Holiday and I have noted two possible water cascades perhaps thrown over from the other side by other appendages. Several areas of shading are noted though it is uncertain whether they are part of the creature's skin. The splash is again noted to the right which obscures the creature's form before we see the opened mouth head. How the torso curves into the water is put in dotted lines as again the water spray makes its curvature into the water unclear. Note how the shadow line clearly denotes a raised hump structure which descends towards the spray and there is an indication of a break in the shadow line between the hump and head.

The creature is unusually high above the waterline and it is not known how it is being propelled upwards as there is little evidence of flipper commotion in the waters around it. It is like Hugh Gray said, it rose out of the water and sunk back down again. In fact this is not uncommon to Nessie sightings and has led to suggestions that the creature has some form of internal buoyancy. Of course, all aquatic creatures need some form of buoyancy else they would sink to the bottom.

Some achieve it through motion of appendages and other by internally retaining volumes of gas or liquid less dense than water. This volume is regulated to cause them to rise or sink. Whether this is being achieved by flippers or other means cannot be fully ascertained from this photograph.

So, the Loch Ness Monster posed for its first photograph in November 1933. Yet despite seventy eight years of scrutiny it seems this "head" interpretation has gone unnoticed all that time. This is down to a combination of the press of the time touching up the picture, the "dog" theory holding sway for at least twenty years and various noted Loch Ness researchers taking us down other paths of interpretation (or just ignoring the picture).

I hope this analysis has put the case back on the table that this is no fake but one of the best pictures of Nessie around today.

P.S. Thanks to my daughter for spotting the "head"!



OTHER ARTICLES ON THE HUGH GRAY PHOTOGRAPH:

The Forsenics of the Loch Ness Monster
More on the Hugh Gray Photograph
Hugh Gray: The Man and his Monster




78 comments:

  1. Fantastic analysis of a typically under-discussed photo. I find the "head" revelation to be the first major revelation to come out of the study of Loch Ness photography in a good many years (though I am inclined to believe that the author's final interpretation of the photograph to be as much a "swimming dog" as the swimming dog that he (rightly) invalidates. The glass lantern slide reveals, I think, a massive wave throwing up spray, though what's causing this will perhaps never be clear. During my last visit to Loch Ness, I sought out many of the locations of classic photos, but never made it to Hugh Gray's spot -- I've been curious how far the water is from this elevated height. Perhaps a comparison photo might clear up some problems I've always had with this pic...

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  2. Thanks,

    The more I look at it, the more I see an eel-like head. Well, I will post a follow up once I garner various opinions for and against.

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    1. t me it looks like a whale in one way but in another way it looks like a walruss
      i want to know other peoples opinions

      Delete
  3. I can definitely see the head -- like I said, I think it's a fantastic find. I just feel that this photograph is so ambiguous that viewers will be connecting their own dots and finding details based upon their own particular bias.

    I can't get behind the author's view (or Holiday's, for that matter) that a hump is on display -- one can see through it, as it clearly isn't a solid shape.

    I'd love to read analysis on all the classic photos, most notably the Shiels pics, for which I've heard many theories on how the obvious hoax was perpetrated, though no clear answer has been put forth.

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  4. It may appear unsolid due to the spray being thrown about but the strong shadow below it does indicate a the object is there.

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  5. Wow! This Hugh Gray posting has received more hits in 4 days than the previous best which took 11 months to get to the same number.

    Thanks for visiting!

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  6. I agree that there's a strong line there on the water; but I cannot see anything that indicates a solid shape.

    Dinsdale mentioned the impression of what he took to be divers' helmets, suggesting that Gray (intentionally or otherwise) captured underwater work near the aluminium plant. I still can't see it, but I definitely feel that what Holiday believed were appendages are an unexplained and curious detail in the photo. Again, I wish we had a photo taken from the spot that we could use as reference; having visited several locations, I've found my opinions influenced by perspective and context (particularly the Surgeon's Photo, though the best I could do was guestimate the exact spot).

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  7. An interesting take on the Gray photograph, Silverity.

    The glass lantern slide print was deposited with FPL thanks to Steuart Campbell who obtained it from Burton.

    In any case, may I ask you about the provinence of the 'wide angle' version (i.e. the one which shows more background)?

    Thanks,

    A.T. Lovchanski

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  8. Silverity,

    I'm sorry for bothering you, but could you please refer us to the source where you found the version of the Gray photo that shows more background than is usually the case?

    Thank you.

    Aleksandar T. Lovchanski

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  9. The wider angle shot was taken from the New Scientist of 24th June 1982 in which Maurice Burton tries to explain why otters explain everything about Nessie ....

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  10. This was taken with a fixed-focus box camera with a slow shutter speed. Unless it is being suggested that someone has deliberately retouched it, then a good test is to show the image to a class of under-tens and ask them what they see. I did that with a group of 15 nine-year-olds and it took about five seconds for one to say it is a dog and when she did, they all just said, almost in unison "oh yes" and laughed. I gave no lead on that. However, if, as adults, we have trouble seeing it, which I did too, for many years until it was pointed out to me. I appreciate your analysis, it is very thorough, but if it looks like a dog, barks like a dog and could have been a dog, then it probably is a dog. Whatever the case, of course, it is nothing like any other monster picture so we keep getting left with the shape-shifter from the delta quadrant. Tongue in cheek!

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  11. If it is a dog, one would expect a lot more in the image. You could also ask the kids if they believe in Nessie if you are taking their opinions seriously!

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    1. that defenetly is not a dog!

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    2. In re-reading this article, I have to take GB (gently) to task for what I feel is a misrepresentation of the "comparison photo" he uses as an overlay to discredit the Fido Hypothesis. His main argument (aside from there being no water disturbance) is that we see only half the dog's face, and that those who are claiming to see a dog are doing so only because of the misleading "left side" of the canine's head.

      However, I think it's fair to say that the image of Fido that everyone is seeing is of a dog seen swimming from a THREE QUARTER ANGLE -- NOT like the portrait image GB is overlaying. Of course the eyes and snout don't line up: the two images don't correspond.

      With that said: now when I see this pic, I see a swimming dog with a dead fish in its mouth. Progress...!

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    3. Hmmm, the "nose" of the "dog" looks pretty face on to me and that is how I have understood others to have taken it.

      Perhaps slightly "turned" to our right but not enough to skew an overlay analysis.

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    4. It's impossible to see Fido swimming toward camera; he's swimming toward frame right. I don't see how anyone can see a dog come directly toward camera.

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  12. Haha, but all under-10s believe in Nessie. I do like the alternative head in the above analysis though. Before the dog was pointed out to me in 1983 I had had a large blow-up of this picture in my Loch Ness exhibition and couldn't actually see anything animate in it. I thought it might show a boat with a man at the back casting a fishing net. I prefer the dog to that.

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  13. Great article, and kudos to your daughter for spotting the head. I saw a picture of a giant sturgeon swimming with its mouth open that looks just like that here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21114513@N08/4943575412/lightbox/

    I'm not saying that EVERY sighting is a giant sturgeon, but I wouldn't be surprised to find a colony of them living in the loch.

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  14. I only for the first time have seen the dog in this pic and I can safely say if it's a dog face, blurred, then it must have been inserted into the picture as there is absolutely nothing behind indicating the rest of the animal. So for me it totally isn't a dog!!!! To me I see new head discovery and I think it looks remarkably similar to this pic http://monster-legends.info/images/old%20picture%20of%20the%20lochness%20monster.jpg

    I'm not sure if this pic is a fake though but check out the head, it's similar to the new head in Gary's photo

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  15. The picture you mention was taken by Frank Searle in 1972 and is largely regarded as a fake.

    If Frank Searle did take any genuine pictures of Nessie, they are lost in the noise of his fakes.

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  16. What I can't understand, after developing the Grey photo, did not the media of the time (blurred photo) ask him to draw what he witnessed while taking his photo? Seems logical.

    Daz

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  17. He may have drawn it but there is no record of it.

    Constance Whyte, F.W. Holiday and Tim Dinsdale all interviewed him but no sign of any drawing!

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  18. indeed, Glasgow boy, fantastic analysis and exceedingly well communicated and illustrated - you are a genius whether or not it's the answer =)

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  19. Chasing Leviathan10 January 2012 12:12

    I won't pretend to be an authority when it comes to photography but I've always been inclined to regard the Gray photograph as a fair 'maybe' and an unlikely dog for the same reason I was always suspicious of the Surgeon's Photograph - size of object in relation to the disturbance on the surface of the water. The Surgeon shot seemed to me to indicate a small object given the size of the ripples. The Gray photograph suggests to me the opposite.

    And to see a potential HEAD emerging out of the deep after all this time... Wonderful!

    You quite rightly point out the risk of reading into the picture what might not be there, but incredibly exciting nonetheless. Thank you!

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  20. Thanks, I actually have more to say on this photo, so watch this space!

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  21. After 35 years of peering at this pic in various books, this is the first time (bar the Great Orm illustration, which even as a kid I was dubious of) where I can actually see what's being pointed out! It does look compelling evidence of a large, aquatic and as yet unidentified creature. Whether it's a hitherto unknown one, though, I'm sceptical of, as by various accounts Hugh Grant left the film undeveloped for a few months. If it were some sort of 'monster' I know I would have had it developed straight away!

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  22. I think the time gap was 3-4 weeks. Some have questioned the presence of the head because Hugh Gray does not explicitly mention it. However, Gray, because of all the splashing that was going on (hence the motion blurs) wasn't sure himself which end he was looking at!

    If it was a fake and the head was "planted" there, you can be sure he would have pointed it out after all that effort.

    Moreover, it's pretty hard to fake cascading water.

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  23. Chasing Leviathan18 January 2012 12:30

    If I'm reading my notes right the photograph was claimed to have been taken on November 12th 1933. Rupert Gould's press release stating his belief in the Monster was published in the "Inverness Courier" on November 29th. It was Hugh Gray's brother who took the film to be developed on December 1st. I don't have the book in front of me, but I think Nicholas Witchell says in "Loch Ness Story" that Hugh Gray doubted the pictures he took would show much of anything due to the amount of movement and spray, and was worried about ridicule from his workmates, hence he was in no rush to get them developed. The picture was sold to and published by "The Daily Record". (Can't find a date for actual publication, I'm afraid).

    Hope this helps. If I've got anything wrong feel free to correct me.

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  24. Thanks, most helpful. Given the less than saintly environment of a typical factory floor, I can quite understand why Hugh Gray deferred on taking the picture further!

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  25. Chasing Leviathan22 January 2012 11:42

    Found the quote attributed to Hugh Gray in "The Loch Ness Story":

    "From the brief view I had of the object so far as the photo was concerned I thought nothing would show... I might have had it developed long before I did but I was afraid of the chaff which the workmen and others would shower upon me."

    The photograph was published in the "Daily Reocrd" and the "Daily Sketch" on December 6th.

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  26. James Jeffrey Paul30 April 2012 18:32

    The best analysis of this photo I have ever read, You must publish this.

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    1. Thanks, James. You're the chap who donated his Nessie library to Inverness last year? I visited it myself, a nice gesture to people who continue to be interested in Nessie. We can talk at shimei123@yahoo.co.uk ...

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  27. James Jeffrey Paul1 May 2012 12:23

    Yup, that is I. A publisher is still looking over my novel WONDER OF NESS. I will e-mail the manuscript to you. Nice to meet a fellow enthusiast. I know Dick Raynor very well and also know Adrian Shine, Steve Feltham, Gary Campbell, and Henry Bauer reasonably well. Look forward to reading your book.

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  28. Glasgow Boy, I just wanted to thank you for this analysis. I stumbled upon it when doing a little research for my own enjoyment. I think I just found my new favorite blog. Very in-depth, well thought out, and shot in the arm for all of us holding on to this legend, saying to ourselves "well, there could be...."

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  29. Have you ever considered that there may be 2 creatures in the photo, one attacking the other? This would explain the "considerable movement" Gray mentions, and the point of attack would be the area obscured by spray and motion blur-- the "dog's head," in other words. Unfortunately it would also mean that the face you point out would be gasping its last.

    -Johnp

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    1. Interesting theory, so far as I know, no witness has ever reported such an incident but if these are animals like any other, conflict must arise at some point in the life cycle.

      Delete
  30. DoubtingThomas9 May 2012 01:34

    Either you don't have a very good eye for swimming dogs, or you are being deliberately misleading.

    The most common 'dog overlay' uses the two black dots above the 'nose area' as the dog's eyes, indicating that it is not coming DIRECTLY us, but rather approaching at a forty-five degree angle. There is plenty of room for the dog's ear at the leftmost part of the white mass, and indeed there is a faint vertical 'stripe' of darkness where the ear would be lying against the side of the skull.

    Your own dog photo show very little of the dog's body behind it, and it is a perfectly clear shot, not a blurry, grainy enlargement. Dogs do not swim with their tail held up in the air like a flagstaff. Lack of evidence of forward motion does not mean it is not a dog, only that it is not a moving dog; on the other hand, the calm water and gentle ripples around the leftmost part of the object do suggest a lack of 'considerable movement'. If it is a photo of a dog which is just about to grab a floating stick, there is no need for any great disturbance of the water.

    Your own interpretation of the photo is chock-full of more opinion than the dog interpretation, not to mention it would require discarding the most common 'culprit creature' (plesiosaurs) which did not have nubby appendages, fish-like faces or the ability to raise their bodies so far out of the water (a feat like that would require a very light tissue density and enormous gas bladders, nonsensical features for a marine animal.

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    1. We really need to dispatch this dog theory to the great kennel in the sky once and for all. But since it is the only thing critics have against this picture then they will hang onto it like, uhmm, a dog with a bone.


      First of all, did you know this dog has three eyes? The alleged eyes are merely part of a sequence of three blotches that continue from left to right. But we will concede that perhaps this dog was eating too much radioactive Winalot and developed a third eye.


      Secondly, why is the image of the alleged dog so blurred compared to the rest of the picture? The waves all around are clear as is the appendage to the left and so on. But we will conceded that perhaps the dog was super vibrating his head like The Flash.


      Thirdly, we are not asking to see a doggy tail or back but merely some evidence of ANY water disturbance that is commensurate with this dog having the distinct biological advantage of having a body. Unfortunately (for you), the water patterns suggests the complete opposite. But we will concede that perhaps this poor pooch was born with no body.


      Finally, you begin to make some sense. Yes, this photo may not actually depict a plesiosaur. I am comfortable with that and my conscience is clear on the matter. You then pontificate on what marine animals should and should not do as if you designed them yourself.

      Yes, this animal can raise itself a considerable level out of the water - just accept it or come up with a better explanation for this photograph that does not involve dogs!

      Delete
    2. Still: the example used as an overlay does not correspond to the Gray photo, and doesn't serve to discredit the hypothesis. I suggest a similar technique using a more appropriate reference photo.

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  31. Wow! Awesome discovery! By the way, Glasgow Boy, I wonder what type of animal you think Nessie is? I think that it is a long-necked pinniped. But what do you think?

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    1. Definitely a water breather but capable of short excursions on land. Probably an amphibian or an amphibian-like fish. Whatever it is, it doesn't readily fit into any category of known animal.

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  32. My mom thinks this may be just a crumpled cardboard box, as she can't see the "dog's face."

    Regardless of what it really is, this was a neat analysis.

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  33. Deinitely a blobbly thing. But not a dog.

    Even if this was taken near the edge of the loch, in two or three feet of water, the actual "dog" would be quite clearly be able to be made out, if that is what it was.

    And it's not. It seems that this photograph was taken from some distance.

    So not a dog.

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  34. Intriguing!

    Bill Gibbons

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  35. That's a cute doggie in Gray's photo. Looks like a retriever.

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  36. This is the best written, most intriguing thing I've read in a long time - brilliantly thought out and presented Glasgow Boy! I really don't understand the reluctance of so many people to accept that human beings don't know everything. I have no opinions of my own as to what it is, but I do believe there is something undiscovered down there, and I think that is very cool. As for the dog....well seeing that requires the imagination of a bunch of 9 year olds (and, apparently, a bunch of adult sceptics) :)
    Come on guys - a dog?! You've got to be kidding me!
    Keep up the great work Glasgow Boy

    Dru

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  37. Nice projection of what could be there. It looks like a cartoon whale though.

    I had always seen the dog because once you see it, you can't unsee it. Even after looking at your projection though, I cannot see that image. While it's a commendable attempt, I don't think that's what's in the photo - with all due respect Glasgow Boy, as I find your work brilliant.

    Also, the creature you've projected seems to be white in color - contrasting other pictures of a dark skinned animal. Hugh Gray's own account says "but there was considerable movement from what seemed to be the tail, the part furthest from me". Your animal has a tail closest to the camera and seems to be resting behind it's baloonish body. I think that is too much contrast against Hugh's own testimony of what he saw.

    So, you've inspired me to project what I can make out of the photo using my own "simulacra" - as you've mentioned.

    I was kind of suprised to see what showed up when I traced the animal I saw. I thought you really might get a kick out of it. Unable to post a picture in a reply, I again was inspired by you and made a blogspot account for it. lol.

    See the picture, as you've never seen it before.. Enjoy!
    ;-)
    http://nessisalwaysmore.blogspot.ca/

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  38. Amazing Analysis! Thank you!

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  39. AMAZING! And awesome. So we have some sort of salamnder-like denizen in the loch. I'm going to draw a picture of it now that I can see exactly what is in this well-know photograph. Great work!

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    1. Thanks! As regards what it is, the jury is still very much out. But this photo is a great help.

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  40. I agree that there is no dog here; it’s purely the simulacra effect. Apart from the reasons listed by Roland I could add a few more. If this was a dog with a stick in its mouth the dog would be rendered in a similar fashion on the film. I.e. it would look like it had been taken at the same shutter speed with similar sharpness and contrast and no evidence of double exposure. In fact the "dog" has part of its face missing and is semi transparent. If that was due to slow shutter sped it would be revelled on the "snake" like object as well.

    However going back to the unretouched picture I don't see even a simulacra dogs head. This is one of the few Loch Ness topics that I would disagree (indeed take issue) with Tony Harmsworth's opinion. Just as with the flipper pictures, I think it’s best to judge on the unretouched pictures.

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the hypocritical element here: The author has debunked the dog theory as simulacra (I agree) but then goes on to use the same phenomenon to persuade us to see his own interpretation. Once we see the head mouth and eye, can we unsee it! Personally I think the eye is just a mark on the negative.

    With the evidence we have, although it drives me mad trying to figure it out, I conclude that although we don't seem to know what this is; there is no evidence to suggest its anything out of the ordinary.

    Look at it from a wider point of view. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to back them up. If you're claiming this is a monster, or unknown creature, that’s a pretty radical interpretation. You really need some strong supporting evidence to persuade us that’s what it is.

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    1. Hmmm, but this "simulcra" casts a shadow/reflection on the water below - and how many simulcra can one photo have!?

      Suggesting we can see a fish like head in the photo is a no-brainer. What the reality behind the image might be is the real question.

      As for extraordinary proof ... sorry, that's out of my hands!



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  41. Interesting article, I'm bookmarking it. I don't think it's a dog either. I also don't think the body bulk is as large as the overlain drawing shows. If that were the case, "hump" would be just as invisible as the rest of the "dog head". MY eyes see an eel - or at least something eel-like.

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  42. Oh, by the way: "tongue", not "tounge".

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  43. I so dont think it could be a dog.

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  44. Is it possible that the two animal are entwined and the head is not conected to the vertical animal but is wrapped around. I had the luck to see two lake monsters very close up (champ and another one in a northern quebec lake) - too bad no camera at the time. But they do have long necks (very swan like)small eyes (one looked like it had silvery eyes like a walleye) small teeth and whiskers. Bottom is white. The flipper is probably the back tail as the side organs look like legs.

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  45. http://www.radiokerry.ie/news/loch-ness-lookalike-sighted-in-valentia-harbour/

    very interesting photo taken in January in Caherciveen Co.Kerry Ireland have a look...

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  46. Good work this will really help my school project

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  47. The season-ending episode of RIVER MONSTERS certainly helped shine some light on the Loch Ness mystery. I had never heard of or seen images of a Greenland shark.

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  48. Upon looking at this photo, I saw something entirely different to what you have suggested. I saw what is depicted as the body here, as the tail of the creature, bending around and then there is a large shadow in the water behind this, which I believed to be the body of the creature close to the surface of the water? Would explain why there is so much water being thrown about as this could be the way the creature moves (with assistance from the tail, much like a crocodile?)

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  49. Fascinating article. I had always dismissed this photo as just too 'odd' to be anything animate. Looking at the 'head' and the rear 'flipper' is this not a marine mammal? Maybe a porpoise or a small whale?

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    1. It certainly bucks the trend for normal Nessie photos. The head has the qualities of various marine animals but piecing it together is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle.

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  50. Whilst looking at the thumbnail on the classic pictures page I noticed there seems to be a trail in the water with a wake on either side which is behind and slightly to our left of the ' dogs head '. This looks very similar to the trail and wake behind your dog pictures above. Still don't think it is a dog though as the image isn't distinct enough (unless its a double exposure) but maybe it shows that the object could be moving towards the camera rather than left to right.

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  51. could this be a photograph of a Seal with an eel clamped between it's jaws.Seals can rise and sink verticaly which could explain the lack of water movement behind the head.If the eel was writhing around it could produce the spray seen in the photograph and also the Head seen at the right hand side.
    Jack.


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    1. Well, I think an eel's head is more elongated that the one in the photo. You are presuming the tail to the left is the rear of the eel?

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    2. Hello GB,
      I was looking through your Blog as I do regularly and realized I had not answered your question about the rear of the eel so apologies for that.I agree that an eel's head would be more elongated than the one in the photo,I think I was looking for an known explanation before considering something unknown.The sinuous nature of the Gray photo seems to me to be similar to the photo you recently published (Wednesday 22 January 2014) which does not feel right (I am not suggesting there is anything untoward with the Gray photo).The anomalous humps around the Creature remind me of the anomalous bits and pieces around the Surgeons photo which is accepted as a hoax.I wonder why the photoshop picture shows what look like unnecessary complications.Perhaps the Photographer will explain.
      Jack.

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  52. Agree with the last comment in so much as this could be two creatures.The only two features of this object that are clear are the 'head' at one end and a flipper or tail at the other. The 'head' though seems disproportionately small to the tail which suggests two creatures. Maybe a seal eating an eel as suggested above although it looks more like a fish head. Maybe its a LNM eating a fish.

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  53. Errr, so if we see a dog it's just our minds trying to see something in a messy image.... but it's scientific to draw a fish head on the right because Roland's daughter pointed it out?

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    1. No, because I give reasons against the dog image and reasons for the fish like head image. There is more to it than bland assertion.

      Did you read the article? Your comment suggests you did not.

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  54. I read it all and I wasn't convinced at all. Just seems like a ridiculous photo to me. I get why you argue against a dog, but why not leave it as "a photo too indistinct to be analysed any further"? Why go out of your way to try to prove it's evidence of a Loch Ness Monster, when there's nothing at all to suggest that is the case? Adding a fish head on to bolster your firmly held belief in Nessie, really? If during your blog you ever did anything other than try to prove all photos as yet unproven are definitely of Nessie, then I'd view you as scientific. Currently you appear religious rather than scientific. Do you ever approach the older indistinct images with anything other than a desire to prove it supports the idea of Nessie?

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    1. My blog is about my opinions and my reasons for holding those opinions. If you are one of the "give us the carcass" brigade, no point in saying any more. No photo will be good enough.


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    2. It's your blog, obviously, but when someone goes all out to prove that every photo or video is genuinely of a monster, how can that be objective or scientific? Like I say, it feels like you have a Nessiecentric religion, and it makes it very difficult for me to take your attempts at analysis seriously. I still enjoy reading your site though, and to your credit you don't censor out the sceptical comments from readers.

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    3. Proving a picture is of a monster or otherwise is not an objective task. Ultimately, it is down to each individual to judge. My approach is two fold, show the weakness of sceptical arguments and point out features one thinks is consistent with their theory of what the creature is.

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  55. what if the head you draw was actually just a fish? and "nessie" is swimming right behind it ready to swallow it, the nose of the "dog" is nessies mouth?

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    1. I'd rather keep it simple and view the object in the picture as one object.

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