Sunday 3 February 2013

An Interesting Nessie Photograph from 1992

One aspect which makes blogging a fruitful pursuit is the interaction with others who take an interest in the same theme. So, as ever, I encourage comments and anything that could add to the online content. So, with this in mind, one of this blog's readers, Jack, sent me this old clipping. It is from the Daily Mail dated 12th August 1992. He had heard my audio interview with Binnall of America and was prompted to open his old copy of Nicholas Witchell's "Loch Ness Story" when an old newspaper clipping fell out! He sent a scan and through the wonder of the Internet, we can all check it out below (click on image to enlarge).

The text of the article follows:

A long brown neck pokes out of the still waters of Loch Ness. Snapped by a Daily Mail reader at the weekend, is this Nessie coming up to take the morning air - or an elaborate hoax? 

Ian Bishop, head of the zoology department at the Natural History Museum, smiled as he studied the picture and three others taken in the same sequence.

His first question - in reference to the traditional summertime lull newsmen call the 'silly season' - was anything but scientific. 'Are you aware,' he said 'that the month is August?'

Such scepticism will not dampen the enthusiasm of the 45 year old man who took the pictures, which bear a striking resemblance to the classic 1934 photograph by London surgeon Robert Wilson. 

'I believe I saw Nessie' he said yesterday. 'Let the experts pore over the pictures and deliver any alternative explanations they can. I'm a simple man, not a scientist. And I say, if that wasn't Nessie, then what was it?'

The man, who wishes to keep his identity secret, had camped overnight about two miles from Fort Augustus, armed only with a Boots 110EF pocket camera. 

'It was about 6:30 to 7am and I went to the Loch to brush my teeth and have a swill' he recalled. 'I soaked my face and looked up. I saw it and my immediate reaction was I must have water in my eyes. I rubbed them, looked again and though "Christ Almighty"'.

'There was about 6ft of a long neck and head and she was a blackish dark brown. She seemed to be looking right at me and I thought she was going to come to the shore. My camera was lying by the trees a few yards away and I made a dive for it.

I scrambled back. She was about 40 yards out, still looking in my direction. I was trembling an my heart was pounding but I managed to knock off four shots. 

At one stage, she opened her mouth. I thought she was going to make breakfast of me. Then she tipped her head back and slid under. After five minutes, he said, the head appeared again about 200 yards away. 

'I could see the shape of four or five humps. It was as if a miniature waterfall was cascading from the front hump. She swam slowly for 20 to 30 yards and then submerged. That was it. I picked up my stuff and I ran.'

The negatives have been examined at the RAF's photographic laboratory and by Kodak. Lieutenant Caroline Smith said: 'We would say the have not been tampered with or touched up.'

And Kodak scientist Roger Flint said 'It is a genuine photograph of something, though we have no comment about the image.'

Such is the account and at this stage there is no further information. The name of the photographer is unknown and the whereabouts of the other three pictures is not known either. I shall make some attempts to dig out what I can from the Daily Mail, etc. 

The picture does look as if it was taken from Borlum Bay and the distant light up the loch suggests it was indeed early in the morning. The object may well have been forty yards out which may or may not be too deep for planting a fake. I hope on my next visit to Loch Ness to take some comparison photographs to get a better idea of the background. A zoom in of the object shows us a very Nessie like profile but what it could be is a matter of conjecture. A real animal or floating fake? Jack is dubious and thinks it has that "inflatable monster" look. I will remain neutral for now.

The camera used was a simple point and click affair retailed by the chain store Boots. It used a 110 film with a 26mm/f8 lens, fixed focus and exposure. The film advance was via a slider underneath and the flash range was 4-12ft. Not really the kind of camera for an elaborate hoax but it appears the object (whatever it is) is really present in the loch waters.

Checking the Nessie literature of the time, only Rip Hepple in his Nessletter makes mention of it and it looks like he too only had the newspaper clipping to go by as he takes a sceptical approach to it but doesn't really state why.

So it is a bit of a mystery who took it and what the other pictures showed. As I said, I will dig further but if anyone has further information, post a comment or email me at


  1. That's an interesting pic! I would offer a preliminary comment that it looks totally faked and not Loch Ness :-)

    1. Hmmm. It looks a bit fishy to me, excuse the pun. We holiday in Fort Augustus every year and it is definitely not the north shoreline that is in the photo. I will have to see if there is anything like that on the southern shoreline within the first few miles of the village. It's a bit surprising that none of the other photos were included.

  2. Whoa!, GB, this was the very photograph that I mentioned to you about last year on one of your articles. Great find, but I remember seeing this picture NOT in the Daily Mail but in the News of the World 'Sunday' magazine, attached to an article about Steve Feltham's beginning 'Nessie Hunter' career. The guy who took these photographs says he took up to four pictures - but I presume this photo was the only one published by the tabloids. I swear the one I saw in the 'Sunday' magazine showed something very similar to this but you could actually see little stubby horns on the top of the creatures head. One thing that struck me about this picture is the silvery sheen of the creature's skin. Can't make up my mind as to whether the picture is actually real though.

    1. Thanks for the lead, perhaps the NOTW has another still so I will check for that.

    2. Do you know what date the Sunday magazine was, Jimmy?

    3. Actually I don't GB...I must confess that it might just be my imagination, but I honestly remember a photograph published in the magazine that showed something very similar to what we see in the picture - but with the head tilted backwards somewhat. The photograph in the sunday magazine was in colour also, and the creature's skin was this curiously silver-colour. Sorry I can't provide anymore info.

    4. From a stretch of the memory, I can tell you that the magazine article was from either Jan/Feb of 1992, but the exact date I'm certainly not sure. Hope this helps.

  3. Even in this low quality image, I would have to say fake. The object presumed to be Nessie appears to be in a different focus than its surroundings. That is a minor point as it could be a result of the poor quality of the image, BUT, there are bright highlights on the object as if strongly lit, while the rest of the photo shows no such illumination, and the visible sky is obviously clouded over.

  4. bodge from suffolk5 February 2013 at 02:53

    Hmm does look 'wrong' to me straight away & is that an eye on the zoom in ? the object seems to stand out from the rest of the picture as though added on & re-photographed ?? would be great to find the person involved for an updated interview .
    great work (yet again)fantastic blog

  5. The concensus so far is not surprisingly fake but a lack of information does not help inform a judgement.

    Moreover, the opinion of the experts in the article needs to be considered too. What do they mean by a "genuine photograph" or not "tampered with or touched up"?

    Does this expert opinion exclude the possibility that the photographer took some loch pictures, overlaid an acetate Nessie and rephotographed the photo? How easy is that with a 110 film?

    The other important factor is the other three images, what could they tell us?

    Another often overlooked item is the photographs taken before and after the sequence. If those show Loch Ness scenes before and after that would strengthen the case that the the pictures were taken at the loch at the stated time.

    All speculation until we see the other pictures.

  6. Is "Lieutenant" an RAF rank ?


    1. Hi G.B. and Dick,
      I've looked on the R.A.F. Website and they have a rank of Flight Lieutenant.

    2. Thanks Jack - I noticed when I read the newspaper scan that the rank was given as Flight-Lieutenant - it was GB who left out the "Flight-" from his transcript :-)

      For me the only minor issue remaining is who doctored the image; not the Daily Mail, surely?

  7. IMO that's a human hand poking out of the water. The bending on the neck corresponds perfectly with the placement of the wrist, and the 'eye' is placed just in the curvature between the thumb & index finger.

  8. I have changed my mind!

    My revised opinion is that it is only slightly faked, and it "is" Loch Ness. There is a "wild camping" spot at 57.1713N, 4.6438W and the photo is looking south from there. The object is about 2 degrees below the horizon and the camera height is about 5 feet a.w.l. so the object is no more than about 43 metres away and no more than 0.64m or 25" high. This assumes no horizontal cropping; the more cropping there is,and the lower the camera was, the smaller and nearer the object becomes.

    The article reads "A long brown neck pokes out of the still waters of Loch Ness", however the neck isn't particularly brown and the waters are not still. The neck is mostly pale and looks like it started out as a female Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus. In fact the neck is much paler than anything else in the photo which leads me to think the >print< may have been altered. The RAF expert is reported to have examined the >negatives<. It is possible that the >prints< were altered and then copied at a minilab to produce the dodgy version as published, while the RAF were shown the original negatives of the bird. In any event, it is just a silly season story as the headline points out.

    1. Hmmm, I will reserve judgement when I perform my own analysis the next time I am up at the loch ...

    2. It looks like you could be correct with the location Dick, so it probably is the north shore after all. As for the rest of the story, well it could be anybody's guess.