Tuesday 8 December 2015

The Latest Nessie Photograph

Or is it? Well, Gary Campbell, who runs his register of Loch Ness Monster sightings, was recently talking about the five sightings he had logged for 2015. Amongst them was this curious photograph taken by American tourist, Crystal Ardito, on July 1st as she was on one of the cruise boats that regularly make their way up and down the loch at that time of year. According to the Daily Mail:

Among them was that logged by American tourist Crystal Ardito who recently found pictures of 'Nessie' after studying her summer holiday snaps.

'I went to Scotland to go on the Loch Ness boat ride on July 1. I took photos of the loch and I was just looking at my photos and I found one photo where I saw a grey thing sticking out of the water, so I zoomed in,' she said.

Ms Ardito said she had only seen the object for 'a few seconds' and 'did not notice the grey object in the photo until months later...in the middle of the loch.'

Gary's website adds a little more detail:

1 July 2015 - Somewhere between 15.00 and 15.30, Crystal Ardito of New York snapped an unexplained creature from a boat on the loch. She said that it was only a few seconds and weather conditions were about 10 degrees celsius and a little windy

From what I can understand of this brief account, Crystal had seen the object for only a few seconds at the time, and so the brevity of the sight was insufficient to have made an impact on her. It was then ignored until she saw it in one of her photographs. The actual location would seem to line up with this picture from Google Streetview. Perhaps she was on one of the Jacobite Cruises that heads south to Urquhart Castle before turning back north.

A zoom in of the picture adds some detail, but not enough to decide whether this is monster or other.

So it was time to run the image through some deblurring software. Various parameters were tried mainly trying to compensate for focus or motion blur. The results were mixed as you can see below.

The best one is compared with the original below.

Non-monster candidates could include a buoy, water fowl, seal or tree trunk given the lack of clarity. I would not have thought a buoy would occur in mid-loch. The shape does not remind me of a bird, though some may interpret the two white "lobes" as wings. They could also be wash or waves. A seal is a possibility - if there was one in Loch Ness. Given the density of traffic around the loch at that time of year, I suspect something about seals would have appeared on social media by now. A tree trunk is possible, but again they tend to hang around rather than disappear from sight.

The object is very dark in comparison to its surroundings which made me wonder if it was in shadow (i.e. the object was between the sun and the observer). Since the time was stated as being between 1500 and 1530, the sun's position for July 1st 2015 can be calculated and shown as a yellow line in the diagram below. The additional green line is the direction of sunrise and the red line indicates sunset.

Such an azimuth would not put the object in shadow unless the cruiser was further up the loch than I thought. However, going back to the original photograph at the top, if that is the sun behind the clouds in the top centre, the time is more likely to be about noon. If it is indeed the sun behind the object, then this would also explain the darkness of the object. 

Certainly, there is an impression that the two white "lobes" are wave action caused by the object, be it by breaking from the surface, moving across the surface or dropping into the water. That would seem a more likely explanation than something descending into the loch.

Theories are invited from readers.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com