Sunday, 14 August 2016

The H. L. Cockrell Photograph




And so we come to the final of the "classic" photographs of the Loch Ness Monster. By this I mean those black and white pictures which were the mainstay of Nessie books from 1934 right up to the end of the manic 70s and beyond. It began with the Hugh Gray photo of December 1933 and ended with the Peter O' Connor photo of May 1960. Colour photography came in but, strangely, the dramatic surface images dried up for 17 years despite the heightened attention from the good, the bad and the ugly (I exclude serial hoaxer Frank Searle from this observation).

These have been argued over and analysed with a fine toothcomb as believers and sceptics alike look for evidence to justify their stance on each photo. Eighty three years on, the claims of fraud, misidentification or genuine continue to this day. Six years on, this blog finally gets round to the final one - the H. L. Cockrell picture.

The time is also ripe to write this article for another reason - establishing contact with Herman Cockrell's son, Peter. A bit of detective work, sending off some letters and eventually Peter touched base some months back. Peter was a teenager at the time his father prepared for his Loch Ness expedition and he recalls helping with the equipment, the kayak and his father's enthusiasm and enjoyment for the whole project.

I am very glad to make his acquaintance and obtain material from him that helps form a fuller picture of his father and that expedition he made to the loch over 50 years ago. There is enough material for several articles, but first we focus on the main event.


THE MAN

Herman Louis Cockrell (or "Gus" to his friends) at that time ran a salmon fish farm near Dumfries in the South of Scotland. But before that, he led a self sufficient life on a farm supplemented by his interests in gun punting, a venture that combined shooting wild fowl with a large bore gun on a punt, which was a flat bottomed boat with a square bow adapted to carrying the rather large punt gun used in commercial operations.

Shooting wildfowl provided an unpredictable income and food in a time of post-war rationing and austerity. But Herman was a man who loved adventure on the water and this led to his passion for building his own boats which is most clearly shown in the photo below of his workshop. In fact, the work in progress you see was the kayak for his Loch Ness expedition.




Reading his articles conveys a sense that his knowledge of aquatic animals overlapped into his speculations concerning the Loch Ness Monster. For example, Herman Cockrell thought that the creatures took to land not primarily for food, reproduction or anything territorial, but rather to rid themselves of parasites. I find that an interesting take on this particular aspect of Loch Ness lore.

Combining this with his natural ability to be inventive and come up with solutions led to the pursuit of his other interest in the Loch Ness Monster. Today, people such as myself just order what is required online. The task of the monster hunter today is pretty much off the shelf, multi-feature electronics. Back in 1958, what Herman Cockrell lacked in products was made up for in practical ingenuity. The picture below shows Herman with the improvised camera he was developing for his one man kayak search.




In the words of his son, Peter: 

This began partly as a publicity stunt for the Solway Fishery and partly “…just for the hell of it” but as time passed it became much more serious and he put a great deal of mental and physical effort into the project over a number of years.  It appealed very strongly to his curiosity, his sense of adventure and, very definitely, his sense of humour. His idea, very carefully thought out and executed, was to patrol the loch on calm nights when any disturbance would be more visible on the surface and when, possibly, Nessie would surface more readily.  This required a special craft, good photographic equipment and a means of verifying results and of publicising his efforts whether or not he caught up with the monster! 

This was achieved as follows. An Eskimo kayak was built to give speed, manoeuvrability and stealth on the water at night.  The boat had steel frames to withstand a close encounter with a possibly angry monster.  A well-known photographic company supplied two high quality cameras which Gus built into a waterproof case with multiple flash guns and wiring inside the boat. And finally “The Weekly Scotsman” provided coverage and the use of their photographic labs to develop sealed film capsules to counter any charge of faking photographs. 

The construction of the camera housing exemplified the hands on approach to this whole affair.

In brief it was constructed from a paint tin with a platform for the camera inside and a glass porthole soldered on the front.  A spotlight on top, made from a cinema usherette’s torch, served as a view and rangefinder.  The switchgear was held in a tobacco tin on the side filled with glue to exclude water.  An expanding and waterproof rubber tube operated the shutter and film winder.  There were two flash bulbs on the top in aluminium shaving soap containers plus two more on the bow of the kayak mounted under cocktail glasses to protect them.  It all worked well under test and then in action on Loch Ness.

Leaving nothing to chance, Herman conducted night time experiments with his setup, as shown below. The equipment was ready, the game was afoot, it was time to head north.



However, as publicity for the expedition increased, the mention of explosives was made, and a degree of concern arose amongst parliamentarians which led to a question being made to the Secretary of State for Scotland, John Maclay, on the 25th March 1958:

Mr. Hector Hughes asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that Mr. H. L. Cockrell, of the Fish Hatchery, New Abbey, Dumfries, intends to explore the depths of Loch Ness using a knife and explosives; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the amenities of Loch Ness and the fish in it.

Mr. Maclay: I have seen Press reports of Mr. Cockrell's intentions. The use of explosives might constitute an infringement of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Protection (Scotland) Act, 1951, and other statutes, but I feel that this possibility can safely be left to the appropriate authorities.

We can safely say that a bit of exaggeration cropped up in this entire mini-episode. As an aside, when Peter O' Connor made references about bren guns mounted on canoes a year later; you can be sure this was merely a humorous play on what the media had got wrong concerning Herman Cockrell!


THE MONSTER

Moving onto the nitty-gritty of the story behind this picture and what better place to get it from than Herman Cockrell himself? As it turns out, Mr. Cockrell had been invited by The Scotsman newspaper to write a series of articles on his upcoming expedition to hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. That series ran from March to October 1958, culminating in the account of his famous photograph. I reproduce the relevant section below.




The night was very dark until the moon rose, the water calm with a slight swell, as usual coming from a direction completely unexpected. There was a little traffic on the shore. It was pleasant in open water, but the water was a bit colder after a storm. Just about dawn I had my first real test. A light breeze suddenly dropped and left me on a mirror surface about half way between shores with Invermoriston almost abeam to starboard.

Something appeared - or I noticed it for the first time - about 50 yards away on my port bow. It seemed to be swimming very steadily and converging on me. It looked like a very large flat head four or five feet long and wide. About three feet astern of this, I noticed another thin line. All very low in the water just awash.

I was convinced it was the head and back of a very large creature. It looked slightly whiskery and misshapen, I simply could not believe it. I was not a bit amused. With a considerable effort of will I swung in to intercept and to my horror it appeared to sheer towards me with ponderous power. I hesitated. There was no one anywhere near on that great sheet of water to witness a retreat but it was obviously too late to run. Curiously enough I found this a great relief. My heart began to beat normally and my muscles suddenly felt in good trim. I took a shot with my camera in case I got too close for my focus, and went in.

The creature headed slightly away, my morale revived completely. I had another shot and closed in to pass along it as I didn't want to be thrown into the air by a sudden rising hump or two. There was a light squall out of the glen behind Invermoriston, and the object appeared to sink. When the squall cleared I could still see something on the surface. I closed in again cautiously. It remained motionless and I found it was a long stick about an inch thick.

I thankfully assumed it to be my monster and took it aboard as a souvenir. I suddenly felt very tired and stiff and wanted my breakfast. The wind freshened. It can get quite choppy in ten minutes well offshore and I had a hard plug back to my camp in the flat cairn of the north shore. but I felt made. For the last few nights I had rather doubted my metal but I now knew I could do the job if necessary, because I really believed I had found the beast.

I arrived home and I really believed my particular monster was a stick - until the films were developed. The film showed things I had not noticed, either through fatigue of the night or - let's face it - the fright of the dawn. The film showed quite a large affair which had a distinct wash. There was no reason for this wash as the picture also shows the water mirror calm when the snap was taken by the reflection of the hills. What caused the wash? Could it have been Nessie after all? I just don't know.

Another point: the creature was seen by a Mr Brown and his wife from Invergordon next day in the same place but farther inshore. He describes it as "three big black humps churning through the water leaving a foaming trail, with 30 yards ahead of the humps a curious wake on the surface which seemed to be the leading part or head." We have never met and at the time no one knew of my own experience. Perhaps later I shall succeed. Anyway I cannot be accused of mistaking the monster for a stick - but it appears I mistook the stick for the monster.

Overall, the entire series is a fascinating account of one man's pursuit of the monster and the resourcefulness employed in that endeavour. As I read his story, I came to realise that Herman Cockrell was no ordinary monster hunter for in more ways than one he epitomised the spirit and adventure of that genre.

The two pictures Herman took can now be shown for the first time together and both uncropped. The first picture Herman took has never been seen mainly because newspapers tend to pick the best picture and ignore the others. Since Herman took the second photo closer to the creature, it won out. The first and previously unpublished picture is shown first followed by the more familiar shot.





THE REACTION

I will look at these photos in more detail later; but what did he see and how did the various Loch Ness experts react? Naturally, various theories have arisen to explain what was in the second photograph. The first focuses on the stick mentioned in Herman Cockrell's account. Because Herman speculated that he may have mistaken the stick for what he initially took to be the monster, that has been seized upon by sceptics who then summarily dismiss the case. I will address the stick theory in the next section.

Of the main Loch Ness authors, Tim Dinsdale believed the picture was of the Loch Ness Monster (Herman's son sent me correspondence between Tim and his father requesting permission to print the photo in Tim's 1961 book). However, Tim is the only one I found that came out in support of the picture.

Others were non-committal, such as Nicholas Witchell in his "The Loch Ness Story", who says it "may" be one of the animals. Henry Bauer is also a "maybe" in his "The Enigma of Loch Ness". Other pro-Nessie authors make no mention of the photograph at all in their main works, such as Constance Whyte, Peter Costello and Ted Holiday. Whether that makes them pro, anti or neutral is not clear as sometimes I have found comments in minor works by authors which do not make it into their main books. For now, one must assume they are no better than neutral.

Which proved to be somewhat of a disappointment to me, but the stick incident seems to have muddied the waters too much for some. Indeed, if Herman Cockrell was non-committal in his initial public pronouncements, it is no shock that others have followed suit.

Of the critics, I was somewhat surprised that Maurice Burton does not mention the picture in his book, "The Elusive Monster". However, Ronald Binns is unequivocal in declaring it as a tree trunk (and first proposes that you can see through it). Steuart Campbell writes in his book that it looks like a stick, but in the end is not entirely sure what the picture shows. Nessie believer Roy Mackal concurs with the sceptics in his "The Monsters of Loch Ness" in identifying the object as a small log or stick.

A further search revealed that Maurice Burton did propose that Herman Cockrell was witness to his favoured vegetable mat in a 1982 article for the New Scientist. This mechanism causes vegetation to rise to the surface on the buoyancy of a build up of methane and, having discharged, allows this natural construct to sink out of sight. Today, this is a theory that has generally fallen out of favour in sceptical circles due to the eutrophic nature of Loch Ness. My opinion is that, even if true, an inspection of an area of water after the eruption of a vegetable mat would surely leave more than just a thin stick behind.

Going back to log theories, by proposing that a log was behind the photo, Ronald Binns was basically accusing Herman Cockrell of being economical with the truth (because he only reported a puny stick). In response to such log theories, Herman Cockrell wrote back to the Weekly Scotsman on the 6th November 1958 with these words:

The statement by the monk from Fort Augustus speaks of logs, floodwater and foam. But none of these were involved.

These are the main theories, now let us move onto a more thorough analysis of these pictures.


THE STICK

First of all, let us go back to the stick that seems pivotal to various commentators on this incident. Herman  Cockrell described it as a long stick about an inch thick. When I asked his son, Peter, about it, his reply was: 

I do remember seeing the stick at the time because he brought it home.  It didn’t resemble the picture – it had some stubs of branches but was basically quite thin and straight.  I do not have any photos of it unfortunately.  

So let us try and dismiss the theory that the object in the photographs is a stick. I begin with my own experiments with a stick at Loch Ness a while back. The photograph below shows the stick for this simple experiment. It was about three feet long and at least an inch thick.







The procedure was simple. Throw the stick into the loch and take some photographs of it. I leave it to the reader to figure out where the stick is in the photograph. It was no more than 10 metres from me.





Just in case a black and white photograph may enhance the appearance of the stick, I include such a version below. Admittedly, the light levels would have been lower for Herman Cockrell, but I see that as a stronger argument that the object in the photos is not a stick. For your information, the stick is just left and above of the centre of the picture.



In fact, I would have been at a more elevated position than Herman would have been in his canoe. Again, that would make the stick more visible for my pictures than it would for Herman's situation. Based on this experiment, I would conclude the object in the photograph is unlikely to be a branch of four foot length and one inch thick.

One other aspect of the stick theory I would like to address is the idea that the better known version of the Herman Cockrell photo shows a gap in the object, thus suggesting it is indeed a log or stick. This is shown in an enlargement of the object. You can see a lighter region on the left side of the object.




There are three reasons I wish to advance as to why this is not a convincing view. Firstly, the stick, as described by Herman Cockrell and his son, does not sound like a stick that would create a gap. It was long and thin and that, to me, means no possibility of a gap between it and the water.

Secondly, Herman Cockrell himself, suggested that what is seen is no more than a wave briefly hitting the object. I quote again from his letter to the Weekly Scotsman of 6th November 1958 where he briefly speaks of the trouble he had with his photographic setup:

The spotlight for view finding was no use after dawn so I had to improvise by holding the camera up and viewing through a tiny hole under the light case. This may be why I missed the splash that appeared during the taking of the snap.

The third reason can be deduced from the now available first photograph. As you can see below, a zoom in of this picture shows no indication of a gap between object and water. Based on these three arguments, I would suggest the light area is indeed a splash which, by consequence, reinforces the idea that this was an object more substantial than a stick.



Realising that the stick theory was in troubled waters, W. H. Lehn, an electrical engineer from the University of Manitoba, attempted to salvage the theory by proposing that the appearance of the stick had been visually exaggerated by a temperature inversion creating mirage conditions. You can read his 1979 article at this link. Though this theory may have some merit for vertical objects, I was not convinced it did for a low lying, horizontal object showing no more than half an inch above the water (assuming such mirage conditions actually prevailed at the time).

By way of example, Lehn demonstrates the mirage effect on a near vertical stick on Lake Manitoba where the temperature layer difference was at a maximum of 25 degrees centigrade (way above Herman Cockrell's environmental conditions). Viewed at a distance of 10km, the stick can be seen at one point to vertically distend to double in apparent height. A doubling of half an inch of stick is hardly going to constitute much on any photograph.

However, Herman Cockrell only had about 20m of potential temperature inversion to look through compared to the much more distortive effects of 10km of such atmosphere. Moreover, an examination of the better known photograph shows no evidence of a mirage. There is no indication of the surrounding waters being distorted or the distant shoreline.

In concluding this section, perhaps a comment from Herman Cockrell's account may explain the role of the stick in the whole affair:

It looked like a very large flat head four or five feet long and wide. About three feet astern of this, I noticed another thin line. All very low in the water just awash.

May I suggest that the "thin line" seen was the stick. I can't prove that, but if it was in close proximity to the creature, it would have registered a small visual presence.


 FURTHER ANALYSIS

That the picture was taken at the location specified is in no doubt as this image from Google Street View shows. The hill contours from left to right match those in the second photograph taken. Mind you, no one was seriously doubting that Herman Cockrell was where he claimed to be.




Now having both photographs available for analysis allows new information to be extracted. The main question is whether the object in question moved of its own accord? By examining the shorelines in the two pictures, correlation points can be identified. Two such points are circled on the two pictures below.





As you can see, the object has moved in relative terms from the right of the two reference points to the left of them. But the difference between the two pictures is the combination of both the movement of the object and the kayak. The movements between the two shots are described thus by Herman Cockrell:

I took a shot with my camera in case I got too close for my focus, and went in. The creature headed slightly away, my morale revived completely. I had another shot ...


Merging the two photos over the two reference points give us the following composite showing the relative motion of the creature. Note Herman's reference to the object as a "creature" in this quote and herein lies his ambiguity. A stick may move along with the prevailing south western wind up the loch, but Herman's language does not suggest an object driven by external forces. The phrases "it appeared to sheer towards me with ponderous power" and "the creature headed slightly away" suggest Herman witnessed a degree of self propulsion in the object under view.




Critics may take it as read that Herman Cockrell stated he merely saw a stick, but his ambiguous language, such as referring to the object as the "creature" suggests otherwise. In fact, given what I have said about his experience on various waters, Herman Cockrell strikes me as a man well equipped to judge the movement of objects on water. He had spent many a time on his own home waters in pursuit of his punt canoe and even describes himself as a "sailor" to Tim Dinsdale in one of their correspondences.

My own judgement is that the relative positions of the object in the composite suggests a motion not accounted for solely by wind or Herman's cautious approach to the object. That would suggest an object possessing a degree of inner motion.

The object itself presents what is a mainly uniform dome shape in the tradition of the single hump sighting. If the width of the object is the maximum of five feet stated by Herman, then the maximum height is about 10 inches out of the water. Is this symmetry evidence of a living object? I would say so, certainly it is not consistent with the shape of tree debris.

What is perhaps of equal interest is the whiteness surrounding the object. This is contrasted with the darker tones of the hills being reflected on the surface of the water. This is most likely an area of water disturbance around the object. It is evident around the object in both photographs which suggests it is a phenomenon associated with and generated by the object.

The extent of the disturbance is not as symmetric as the object itself as the disturbance extends an apparent distance of about 7.5 feet to the left of the object and about 10 feet to the other side. My own interpretation is that this is in fact the bow wave of the object generally moving in the direction of Herman Cockrell. If the creature is heading towards you at near water level, then the disturbance caused by forward motion will look a horizontal line of turbulence.

That this situation is intimated by Herman himself is again exemplified by the phrases, "swimming very steadily and converging on me" and "it appeared to sheer towards me with ponderous power". Furthermore, the phrase "the creature headed slightly away" before he took the second photograph would also imply that the furthest arm of the bow wave would undergo a degree of foreshortening in the picture, and this is what we get with the left arm being 25% shorter than the right arm. The first photo, though more indistinct in showing the wake, suggests more equal bow arms.

Finally, there is a suggestion of another object about 10 feet to the right of the main object in the picture. It is somewhat spherical and has a maximum extent of 8 inches. It is visible in the second, well known picture, but is not visible in the first picture. What this might be would be a matter of speculation on anyone's part. Is it physically connected to the main object under the surface or is it completely unrelated?

For me, there is just not enough information to favour one explanation above another. However, I would say that if the object is heading towards Herman Cockrell, then the object on the right is not likely to be the head.


CONCLUSIONS

In between planning and plotting his trip to Loch Ness, Herman Cockrell imagined what he might encounter in doodles such as the one below. But what did he really encounter in 1958? Did fatigue and exertion really make him mistake a thin stick for what is portrayed in the two photographs? I do not think so, the evidence of his testimony and a more detailed examination of the pictures points to something larger and moving under its own power.





That is enough to satisfy me that what we have here is a genuine encounter with one of the monsters of Loch Ness. Using a rule of thumb that one third of the object is exposed above water, gives us a minimum size of this creature of fifteen feet.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

76 comments:

  1. To me it looks like William Jobes' photo. I imagine it's more likely that this is an animal, or a species that swims using a specific conformation at the surface (which appears very clearly in both photos) than 2 random branches that happen to float in exactly the same way. The only thing is, in both the Jobes and Cockrell photos, there appears to be little or no wake.
    As for a mirage effect, there doesn't appear to be distortion, so this is clutching at straws. I think Occam's Razor applies to this particular case, rather than 'lets just keep making up stuff till Nessie disappears'. I tell you, Loch Ness is like a magic show, all those optical illusions leading one astray......

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    1. The wake is not so large face on. In fact, wakes don't need to be so big. I have watched crocs on TV swimming just barely above the surface and generating hardly any wake.

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    2. It certainly looks like something in motion rather than not. It's very possible the animal was conserving energy. I tend to think of these animals as always fast moving, which is probably a partial misconception on my part.

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  2. One obvious question- if this isn't the stick Cockrell picked up, where is that stick in these mirror calm photos? Pretty obvious to me it's just a stick. No mirage, no fancy explanation required.

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    1. Herman said "I had another shot and closed in to pass along it", so it may not have even been in the second picture was at another location he "closed in to".

      Secondly, not all of that picture is "mirror calm". the area around the object is disturbed water.

      Thirdly, I am not convinced a stick an inch thick would be that visible in this quality of picture.

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    2. The stick Cockrell pulled out was significant enough for him to think that it was the "monster" he'd seen. I'd suggest that the stick we see in these two photos is about as small as you could get while still being able to say it's "monsterlike". I found your article interesting, but I am utterly convinced we're looking at nothing more than a couple of photos of a stick here.

      I also see that you call this article the last on the "classic photos". I haven't read your previous articles yet (I will do so in time) but would I be right in guessing that you've argued the case for the photos showing Nessie in most if not all of those articles? I think you might be one of those cryptozoology types who looks for ways to bolster the crypto case rather than taking an even and pragmatic approach. I may be wrong of course.

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    3. "I arrived home and I really believed my particular monster was a stick - until the films were developed. The film showed things I had not noticed ..."

      I am utterly convinced it is not a stick, but there is no need to reiterate what I have already written above. People can make up their own minds.

      Of the 7 classic photos I have now covered, I would class one as fake, four as genuine and two as inconclusive.

      I think it is a bit churlish to speak of defending all photos in an "even and pragmatic" way when sceptics reject all pictures in a way which is surely not "even and pragmatic" ... the decision is always known in advance.

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  3. This article is already top of google search for "hugh cockrell loch ness".

    No surprise since so little has been written about it.

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  4. I love these analytical articles, Roland. Your use of Google Street View to highlight the exact spot that sightings took place is particularly clever...living in Drumnadrochit I can actually visit these places and see for myself. Fascinating, well done again.

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  5. An excellent posting, Roland. Whether or not we believe the Cockrell photo shows a stick or a genuine LNM, it's great to get such detailed background on the story. None of the books that have described this incident include anything like as much info as you have here. Great detective work- keep it up!

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    1. Thanks, Doug.

      As I recall, Tim Dinsdale gave the fullest account in the mainstream literature. He was in communication with Herman by post. I don't know if they ever met or spoke by phone.

      A lot of information can be gleaned from past newspaper reports, but the bonus was getting in touch with Peter Cockrell who has been most helpful.

      In fact, expect one or two more articles on Herman's Loch Ness story!

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  6. I agree with Doug. Splendid work Roland.Im glad I found this blog as it beats any other blog or websites on Nessie hands down.

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  7. Here's my thoughts as the blog's Nessie fence-sitter: Point #1.) Whatever the object is it moved quite a bit and that can't be entirely attributed to Cockrell having changed his position. The object shifted position relative to the opposite shore's mountain peaks and shore artifacts as marked by GB. Point #2.) I don't believe currents moved the object as the water's surface in the photo looks to be flat calm. While it's possible there could be a slight current under such conditions, such a slight current to my mind simply wouldn't be enough to move the object to the extent it did move during the relatively brief time frame. Point #3.) The object is moving enough to generate what looks to my eyes to be a V shaped wake off of the (presumably) front end relative to the direction of travel. This is strongly suggestive of forward motion. Point #4.) Binns' idea that the object is a curved log that you can see under at the surface doesn't ring true. It seems unlikely that a mostly horizontal log with such a central curvature would maintain a vertical position relative to the curve, but rather the curve would flop over. Also, I would expect to see some signs of water breaking off the bases of the curves at the inner edges or even generating wakes. This is not evident in the photo. The wake only breaks from the outer edges of the object. I agree with GB that the alleged bottom of the curve is a wash effect. All of the above, combined with Mr. Cockrell's testimony leads me to think that what was encountered/photographed was an animate object. I will go further out on a limb and say that the object doesn't look like a seal swimming, and - subjectively speaking - looks too large to be an otter.

    GB: Did Peter Cockrell have an opinion as to what the photo depicts?

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    1. Thanks for your points, Paddy. I did not ask Peter Cockrell for his opinion, but in a 2010 article about his Dad he quoted Burton's rotting vegetation theory.

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  8. "I think you might be one of those cryptozoology types who looks for ways to bolster the crypto case rather than taking an even and pragmatic approach. I may be wrong of course."

    Coming from a serial troll such as yourself, I find your remarks hilarious.

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    1. Aw Ron, harsh words fella! At least I made you laugh I guess.

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    2. Civility one and all, please.

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  9. Do you have any idea where the camera was located? I ask because at least one site says it was strapped to Cockrell's head. This one for instance http://wwwcryptocom-steven.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/nessie.html

    It's of interest because it seems to me that, measuring the second photo on my computer screen, the height of the hump above the waterline is about 1/10 of the depression of the object below the horizon. Simple geometry then implies that the actual height of the hump above the waterline is about 1/10 the height of the camera lens. If the latter were (guessing) 30 inches, as it might be if strapped to Cockrell's head, then the height of the hump would be about 3 inches, and the photo is not credibly of a one-inch-thick stick.

    On the other hand, the camera in your photo does not look well suited to being strapped to one's head!

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    1. I am not entirely sure. I assumed it was attached to the helmet. I will look for an explicit reference.

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    2. Answer in article above:

      "The spotlight for view finding was no use after dawn so I had to improvise by holding the camera up and viewing through a tiny hole under the light case."

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    3. Dinsdale states the camera was mounted on the helmet and operated by moving hismouth.

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  10. I think a lot of the old photographs are hoaxes but I have always found this one a fascinating story. If it was an intended hoax or lie then why would he say he found a stick and that's what he thought his sighting was ? So in my opinion he did snap a photo of what he really though was a sizeable creature.

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    1. Agreed, the stick is a bit player in this story.

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  11. For me its clear a one inch stick is not the object in this photograph, the object is far greater.

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  12. Fascinating. And wonderful to see the first photograph taken after all this time! A real find! Nice one, GB! And huge thanks to the Cockrell family for so much information. It's always great to get a clearer picture of past hunters.

    Regarding classic photos, GB - any chance of an article about the Lowrie sighting? Henry Bauer states there was more than one photograph taken on that occasion. I'd kill to see the others if they could be tracked down!

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    1. Thanks, CL.

      The Lowrie photo. I wouldn't put that down as a classic, but it has featured in the literature of the time. Finding unpublished photos has certainly whetted the appetite though!

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  13. Is that the Lowrie sighting taken off the boat showing a huge wake ? If so then i have to disagree with you Roland when you say its not a classic one. It may not be a classic photo but it clearly shows something powerful leaving a wake and the beauty of it is that it was witnessed by a second party on land which described the movements the same as the people on the boat. I would also love to see any further photo's of this sighting.
    Over to you Roland

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    1. Yes, Torquil MacLeod (of the 1960 land sighting) saw it too. My idea of a "classic" photo is that the monster is visible in the picture, I am not sure any of it is visible in the Lowrie picture.

      Anyone that has info on these missing pictures can email me .. or they could be Sherlock. :)

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  14. I have just heard of another claimed sighting yesterday along with a photograph, thats 2 now in a couple of weeks.Not much luck for me im afraid, a couple of strange wakes and a strange looking shadow as i was walking high up on a hill is all i have to report after 4 months up here. Im here for another 6 weeks or so so hopefully my luck will change.

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    1. I've seen the photo (strangely only a single shot). Nothing at all of note. Again.

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    2. I have managed to see them on a friends phone. I agree the photo is nothing to write home about. But as i glanced through the facebook page i was shocked to see the insults thrown at people by Dickie Raynor. It looks like if you dont agree with him your a halfwit.
      Keep this blog going Roland as it allows two sides of the argument without arrogant nasty insults.

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    3. It's strange. I have met Dick several times and he is civil and friendly enough. But on the Internet, it's a different story.

      I think the Internet just does that to us.

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    4. I met Adrian Shine a few years ago and he was a great bloke to be fair. He did not mock me once and even told me to keep up the hunting. You can see now why he does not get involved in any sort of internet debate.He has respect for anyone's opinions, a far cry from Dickie Raynor.

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    5. Could it be something to do with the recent personal comments you've made about Dick online, Roland?

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    6. What were those? btw Dick's internet style has not really changed in years...

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    7. Some genuine people unexperienced with loch ness make genuine mistakes and think they have seen something. Thet are not 'halfwits' or other names he calls them. Does he call his customers who pay nice money on his boat trips halfwits?.
      I doubt it.

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    8. Nessie hunter......"I met Adrian Shine a few years ago and he was a great bloke to be fair. He did not mock me once and even told me to keep up the hunting. You can see now why he does not get involved in any sort of internet debate. He has respect for anyone's opinions, a far cry from Dickie Raynor."

      Not forgetting a nice little earner where Nessie is involved.

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    9. I've no problem with people making money from the monster. Just so long as they are up front about their position on the phenomemon.

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    10. Looks like a lot of people are making money out of it, good luck to them But some are nice people and some are not.

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    11. I've no problem with anyone as long as they don't go all out to suggest every tiny shred of "evidence" backs their widely declared cause. That's not science.

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    12. Well i have been hunting for 15 years but i havnt claimed to see the monster. I have seen a few things i cant explain but not enough to say it was a large animal. From experience i know how things can fool people not used to the Loch, but it doesnt make them idiots or halfwits . Dont forget Dickie Raynor got very excited about his own film a few years back, was he a halfwit? No.

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    13. I've no problem with anyone as long as they don't go all out to suggest every tiny shred of "evidence" backs their widely declared cause.

      I agree and I don't know anyone amongst "believers" who does that.

      Your words also apply to critics of films, photographs and reports who think their interpretation of a feature in said film, photo or report is objective evidence and the best one.

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    14. The casting of aspersions by anonymous posters really needs to stop. Tweaking the moderator is the height of ridiculousness considering Roland is about as fair-minded as they come -- and there's no friendliness behind it, just someone being transparently snide for snide's sake. As well, Roland's use of "science" is never a cloak for close-mindedness. But I shouldn't have to defend him (as if I could, he's so much better at it), nor should anyone else have to deal with such matters as it detracts from the subject of this blog.

      I, too, was disappointed to read Dick Raynor's comments on Facebook. Quite a meltdown and not easy to take in, considering his previous postings have often been well reasoned and always even-tempered. I hope his future postings return to that.

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    15. Ron, do you really think it's ok for Roland to post here and on Amazon about Adrian's and Dick's ages and imminent retirement, plus references to Dick "grooming" Darren Naish? Also an open gloat that Nessie scepticism will soon be dead in the water? Roland is deliberately being personal and provocative in the extreme, and that's inevitably met with less than kind responses.

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    16. Let's clear up something here, haveyouseenityet. The official retirement age is 65 years here in the UK. Why? Because that is when the state starts paying you a pension. That kinds of implies retirement. You must be seriously joking about not being allowed to talk about someone's age. I really do think you are mischief making.

      If Adrian steps down from his job at the Loch Ness Centre in the next year or so, I think that will back up what I say. And why would anyone be surprised if he did?

      And what exactly is wrong with grooming a successor? It happens all the time in other areas of line.

      As for people getting older and stepping away from Nessie debating. Sorry, but I have seen it happen with others. They get older, they just disappear. It's a pity, as there are people out there I would like to see and benefit from their wisdom, but it's not going to happen.

      Some stay on for the debate, but others don't as they feel they have better things to do with their remaining years.

      And, yes, if Adrian and Dick step back from the debate (and believe it or not, it will happen as they get older), their side of the debate will suffer. Feel free to state why you think otherwise. You can call it a "gloat", I call it an opinion clearly stated.


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    17. Ron, I don't visit the webpage where you saw the "meltdown". I haven't been there for months and intend to keep it that way.

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    18. No more comments on this contentious subject, please. Also, haveyouseenit, I haven't visited the forum in question for at least 3 months. You'll just have to accept that.

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  15. I must of heard wrong, someone told me there was at least 2 photographs.

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    1. What's the reference for multiple Lowrie photos?

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    2. Hi, GB. Reference as follows:

      "The Enigma of Loch Ness." Henry H. Bauer. Johnston and Bacon. 1991 Edition. Pg. 47:

      ""The Lowrie wake was photographed in 1960 and has been included in books by at least Dinsdale, Mackal and Witchell... Imagine my surprise when, in the mid-1970's, I heard a talk by Sir Peter Scott (at a Wildlife Federation meeting at the Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky, 20 Mar. 1976) and not only learned for the first time that more than one photograph had been taken but saw slides of two more of those Lowrie photographs."

      Hope that helps. :)

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  16. Any largish stick I have ever thrown in a loch has invariably found it's way back to shore, is one likely to be floating in the middle of the loch ?
    Of all the largely discredited classic photos this one is the most honest and modest, it's definately Loch Ness [ Gray, Rines ], the image has not been tampered with { McNab, Rines ], the object has not been manufactured and/or placed [ Surgeon, Stuart ], it's a photo of something unexplained in the loch taken by an honest person.
    Is it possible to calculate the size of the object via the lens size, and height of the camera from the water surface ?

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    1. The nice thing about this is that you don't need to know the lens size. Just do this:
      Working on a large copy of the picture, either on paper or on screen, measure the vertical distance from the waterline at the object to the far shore. Call this D. Measure the height of the hump above its waterline. Call this H. Units don't matter as long as they are both the same.

      Then (true height of hump) = (height of camera above water) times (H/D).

      This is valid if the height of the camera is much less than the distance to the far shore, which I think is the case here. I measured H/D to be about 1/10.

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    2. Yes it is common to find floating wood anywhere in the loch.

      The shoreline is surrounded with forest and anything falling into any of the many tributaries finds its way into the loch. It then follows the current which usually goes with the wind running (9 times out of ten) southwesterly up the loch.

      That's why so much wood and assorted rubbish ends up on Dores or Lochend beaches.

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    3. David, does your H/D formula work with digital photographs?

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    4. Also, David, do you have a link somewhere that explain your height calculation technique?

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    5. Here's one way of seeing the calculation. Imagine that the true height of the hump is h. Imagine that the height of the camera above the water is d. Now imagine that you could take a measuring stick out to the location of the object and plant it in the water so that its top is level with the camera, i.e. its height above the water is d. Imagine that we took a photo of the hump and the stick, and then measured, on the photo, the height of the hump on the photo (call it H) and the height of the top of the stick above the water (call it D). If the camera does not distort, the relative sizes of the hump and the stick will be the same on the photo as in real life, h/d = H/D, so h = d times(H/D).

      I've cheated here a bit, because in my earlier post I said we would measure D from the far shore down to the waterline (not having a measuring stick to hand). But if the far shore is very far away, the sight line from the camera to the far shore will be almost horizontal, i.e. it will be almost the same as the sight line to the top of the stick, so the error I've made will be a small one.

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  17. Seems a new Nessie photo has been taken, link to coast to coast site..........

    http://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/loch-ness-monster-photographed-by-vacationer/

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    1. Interesting. The calm water on either side suggests it's not a boat wake. Let's hope someone knows the location it was taken from.

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    2. There is more detail here
      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/holiday-snap-finally-captured-loch-8660633
      from which it should be possible to find out where it was taken. I'm a bit mystified by the degree of zoom being used. It didn't think mobile phones could do that.

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    3. I guess I should address this photo and the "snake-like head" one.

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    4. Interesting that the witness said her eyes popped out of her head and she quickly grabbed her phone and started snapping away. No paralysis, none of the mythical "shock and awe" response.

      Camera phones really are the answer.

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    5. You know, you are beginning to annoy me with your half truths and tactics.

      Annoyed in the sense that I have to correct them and if I delete them, you'll begin to moan.

      The "mythical" shock and awe is real enough, eyewitness reports testify to that. Your illogical approach is that if you can find just one person who didn't freeze, that disproves all the others. That is nonsense. Either you are really thick at figuring out an argument or your aim is purely to be disruptive and plant doubts in peoples' minds.

      The example you give is not even a good example as the object was so far away. Please think through your answers before posting here.

      As for camera phones being the answer. I have stated elsewhere that this "solution" is more to do with quantity than quality.

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    6. Steve Feltham is saying a Nessie story is coming out in the Daily Mail tomorrow (Saturday). Could be good, could be nothing. We'll see.

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  18. Glasgow Boy, the formula works with any camera, film or digital, unless the camera distorts the image significantly. Most cameras don't unless they have a fisheye lens and then it's obvious. I don't have a link, I worked it out for myself. I'll try and find either a link or a way of explaining it.

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  19. really good article & so much research & a new photo as well !!many thanks all we need now is the new book on frank searle & i'll be a happy man !!....

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  20. I've always taken Cockrell's own skepticism that he may have hallucinated the whole thing UNTIL he saw his own developed photos as a good sign. It doesn't make him "weak" that he didn't believe his own eyes and thought the whole thing could temporarily be attributed to a stick he found after the main events. He had to realize as anyone should that successive, solitary, overnight floats on the Loch could lead to hallucinations in the dawn. He was an exceptionally honest witness.

    The proof isn't in his honesty though, it really is in these two photos taken together. That is no stick (least of all a 1 inch thick stick), it's moving under it's own power, and it's really too large to be any known species in the Loch. Aside from the Grey photo, these are probably the only other genuine photos we can be sure of.

    All of which implies Cockrell's verbal description of the head he saw before taking the photos was also accurate. In which case we have a bit of morphological detail that is all too often lacking in these reports.

    "A very large flat head four or five feet long and wide. About three feet astern of this, I noticed another thin line." This couldn't be an animal with a long, thin neck. This is very much in keeping with the "Great Salamander" described in some very early accounts, and consistent with head to neck proportions (4 to 3 or 5 to 3) of salamanders in general. It's also consistent with some reptiles, but the flatness would be more in line with an amphibian.

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    1. We all interpret these reports according to our own pet theories. In this case sceptics see an inanimate stick, Roland sees an animate "standard" Nessie, Steve Plambeck sees a giant salamander. Sceptics see the confused nature of the report plus the picking out of the stick as indicative of no monster, Nessie advocates see no such problem; in fact they can even see these factors as supportive of a monster.

      What's clear is that we are all interpreting anything ambiguous according to what we already believe. For me that simply demonstrates how ultimately worthless anything like this report really is.

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    2. I think your trashing of this photo (and hence every eyewitness testimony) is simplistic and most likely designed to be dissuasive to others.

      "We all interpret these reports according to our own pet theories" - simply not true. If it were, I would accept every photo claiming to be Nessie as genuine.

      This boils down to two interpretations - is it an object explicable by normal phenomena or something else? Steve and I are in agreement - it shows the Loch Ness Monster. There is not enough information in the photo to identify the species, so it should go no further than that in terms of this photo.

      Your summary dismissal just really ignores everything that has been argued in the article. I have just checked your comments again and you do not actually address any of the arguments made, you just try and make up new ones against the photo being anything other than a thin stick.

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    3. Ok if you'd prefer me to elaborate....

      Cockrell mentioned a "squall" on what appears to be be a very calm day. He also found a stick, and that's what I see in these photos. I don't see a monster plus the stick he found, just a stick.

      I see no movement in the stick. Any change in position of the stick in relation to the background I'd put down to a combination of movement of Cockrell in relation to the stick, plus a small amount of possible drift of the stick.

      I see the "wave" you mention as far more looking like a gap under the stick. I think in the second photo this doesn't show because at the moment that was taken, less of the stick was protruding from the water. I am VERY familiar with water, and how a drifting stick in even relatively calm water will very gently present different amounts of itself above water. The small ripples of the breeze will sometimes cover more of a stick than at other moments. In fact, it would be remarkably unlikely to achieve the exact same amount of surface protrusion of a stick in these conditions in two photos.

      So in answer to your question, all I see is a stick, the same one in both photos. In one photo we see light under the stick, in the other we do not see the light because the water rippling has at that particular moment risen an inch or two in relation to the stick.

      Once again, no monster here.

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    4. I am not sure why the mention of the "squall" is relevant. You say it but don't explain why you say it.

      Your analysis basically is a series of gainsays summarised as "No, I think its a stick".

      It is no surprise you are hiding behind the excuse that Cockrell did all the movement as a stick is going nowhere on a calm day.

      No mention at all from you on the water disturbance around the object which suggests motion. Perhaps you being VERY familiar with water let you down on addressing that point?

      Unlike you, I actually went to the loch and conducted experiments with a similar stick. The photos look nothing like what you claim and despite my stick having a bend in it, gravity always made sure the stick was flat. You're just talking any old nonsense to get out of this.

      You'll do your time here like most of the other sceptics who think their mission is to lead us poor benighted believers into the pure light of scepticism.

      You'll fail and move on (or come back under another pseudonym). Do what you must and them go.

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  21. I don't see any "movement" from the stick, just parts of the water where the stick is only just breaking the surface. At these points the stick will have been gently causing the surface to break. For those unused to the behaviour of floating debris on water, an illusion of independent movement in the photos can be excused. You have now been educated, and I hope this helps..

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    1. Oh, I thik we have some experience watching floating debris, as others do here.

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  22. Ii dont think the hole or gap or wateva u call it is visible more in one pic than the other cus the so called branch is Lower in the water in first pic! It is near the top of the object so Wud be visible in both pics: I agree it's prob a splash of water and I regard this as one of the better nessie pics and better than most of the other oldies! ............... More than a legend! Long live Nessie !

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