Monday 23 April 2018

A Photograph from 2006

Last year a reader informed me of a previously unreported eyewitness account  that had been posted on the Internet. I contacted the witness and discussed the case with him before agreeing to republish the account here. What was not published back then was the photograph that he said was taken by his girlfriend due to loss of contact with her. I am now happy to say he has obtained her consent and the photo is now included in this article. I reprise the account as told by the boyfriend that day over eleven years ago.

I am writing this under a pseudonym. I am an American working in a field involving considerable professional scrutiny. The one time I discussed this, at a family holiday party after a few drinks, I was laughed at and ribbed for the next few years, so I can only imagine how my present employers might react!

In March of 2006, I visited Loch Ness with my then girlfriend. It was the last week of the month (either the 28th or 29th). We were at Inverness for business purposes, hers not mine. We decided to visit the famous castle on the water and as we drove from Inverness we saw something in the water. 

The time was late afternoon, I would say between four and five. We'd been day drinking which made driving on the other side of the car even more interesting than it already was! It also somewhat compromises the specific details such as precise location and time.

 When my girlfriend began exclaiming that "there's something in the water," I laughed and said she was joking. Finally I realised she was being serious and pulled off to a lay by somewhere near the Clansman hotel (I remember because we went in afterwards to the gift shop to tell everyone what we had seen). As soon as I pulled over, my girlfriend was pointing at the water and I saw it. 

I can't really judge size on water, its not my speciality, but it was HUGE. It looked like a whale. I would say it was grey like an elephant with a neck that was swinging side to side over the water. That was really what it looked like, an elephant waving its trunk. There was a huge commotion in the water behind it. The thing was just massive. It was swimming back toward Inverness the way we came. 

My girlfriend was fumbling to get her camera out of luggage in the back seat before the monster was gone. She was tipsy and we were both shaking. She finally got it out of her bag and took a picture through the car window. We were so shaken up that neither of us thought to roll down the window. She tried to take another snap but her memory card was full, and as she fumbled to delete sightseeing pictures to make more room, it was gone. It just sort of went down while it continued swimming toward Inverness. 

In retrospect I wish we had taken photos of the water afterward which was quite disturbed, but it wasn't until I began reading up on the subject that I realised it might have been of value. We took the picture to the gift shop and the lady at the counter told us to go the exhibition centre to show it, but we got cold feet and just went back to the hotel at Inverness and drank some more. When we got back to the States, we put it on the computer and pretty much never looked at it again or even talked about the experience. It was almost like we felt guilty. 

My girlfriend and I long ago broke up and I have since married, and the one time I told my wife (it was the holiday party at her family's house), the response was so embarrassing that whenever she jokes about "that time Justin saw Nessie," I just sort of laugh it off.

 I just found the picture last week on a CD rom containing files I removed from my ex's computer before I moved out following the breakup. It was in a folder with 90s alternative rock mp3s! I hadn't looked at it in years and while the quality isn't great considering it was just a point and shoot she'd owned for a couple years, it still made my heart skip a beat. Seeing it again caused me a sleepless night because I am sure I saw something that isn't supposed to exist, and over the years I sort of talked myself out of it (too much beer that day, etc). Now its all back again, and I feel a little shaky.

It wasn't a pleasant experience, even though there was no threat of physical harm. 

I am not a Loch Ness Monster enthusiast and know as much as the average person. I didn't care about it and certainly wasn't looking for it. Same with my ex. All I have is the photo, taken through the passengers side window (slight camera reflection) showing a dark body and neck low over the water.
Based on that photograph, I make some observations. Firstly, I have confirmed the location of the photo as the Clansman Hotel area. Secondly, There is no EXIF data with the image, so I cannot confirm the date it was recorded. I have been to the area twice and took some comparison shots, which I outline below. I would add that the photo, going by the difference in the distant houses in the original and comparison shots was likely at a point south of the Clansman Hotel.

The object is blurred as if to indicate motion. This is indicated by the fact that the background hills and foreground bushes show less blurring. The presumed neck is more blurred than the bulk of the body, which is consistent with his description of the neck moving from side to side. There is a strong wake behind the object which indicates said motion and also that it is rapid. 

The image size is about 320kb, so closer inspection of the object is not possible. Access to the original Mb image would be useful (as well as for the exif data). Detecting image manipulation would required the original image, but I see no indications of image manipulation. The camera taking the picture is reflected in the image indicating the car window was rolled up as testified.

I then indulged in some speculations. The only object of comparison would be a dark boat. Most boats are light in colour or multicoloured. Either way, other unorthodox objects need to be considered and eliminated as required - jet skis, speedboats, windsurfers, yachts. None seem to fit the shape of this object unless they assumed some strange "instant in time" contortions. 

The object is basically blackish which is curious since I also did a calculation as to the sun's position at the stated time and date. The sun would have been behind the observers and slightly to their right. The conditions look overcast in the picture, so there may not have been much reflection. All this would indicate an intrinsically dark object. 


The object is hundreds of yards away so details are confined to gross morphology. Comparison shots which included a Jacobite cruiser and a cruise boat were taken by myself days ago and is shown below. The previous article used an older comparison shot, but the recent ones are better. The witness photograph was then overlaid onto this picture, aligning the background hill contours as carefully as possible.


The picture I think again shows the Jacobite Warrior cruise boat. Its beam or width is 8 meters and measuring the relative image sizes of the two, an estimate of object size can be made as follows based on measurements I made with a ruler on the computer screen display. 

Jacobite Warrior beam/width = 8m 
Width on screen =20mm
Width of object "body" = 10mm maps to 4m (13ft) 
Width of whole object = 18mm maps to 7.2m (23.5ft)

This tallies with my previous Jacobite comparison which estimated 21 feet for the black object. In the cruiser boat shot, I measured the boat at 24mm and the object at 28mm though here the distance between object and boat looks farther and so estimating the size is more difficult but these boats can vary between 30 and 40 feet long.

So the "monster" is over 20 feet long including what we presume to be the neck, which was a little more difficult to estimate due to motion blur. Again, this is consistent with the witness' description of the object being "huge". 

There are some caveats. The "monster" is a bit further out for the Jacobite comparison and so is actually bigger in terms of perspective. The boat front is at a slight angle to us and so the apparent foreshortening makes its measured length a little less than 8m. These two observations probably cancel each other out to a certain extent.  

Based on this, I am pretty sure that is not a bird like a swan or cormorant taking off as it disturbs the water with its feet. The object in the picture is uniformly dark and swans are white. Given the sun was behind the photographer, I would not expect a white swan to turn out black. I also note an absence of anything I would call wings in the picture which would surely appear in a picture of a rapidly moving bird.

Cormorants are darker, but the "body" in the picture looks larger in proportion to the "neck" than for cormorants which have quite big necks/heads. Besides, I again think this object is further out than that. There is a line below the object which is most likely a boat wake, so we are out there with the boats. 


In an attempt to bring out further detail on the object, I employed some deblurring software which can compensate for motion blur and general out of focus subjects in an image. Applying some deblur parameters and zooming in produces the following images. The first is the original object while the second applies a deblur factor of width 2 (how many pixels to shrink). The final image is more complex in that it applied a motion deblur factor of 4 in a 140 degree direction. Why this should be 140 instead of 180 is not clear, though this may suggest another direction of blur possibly brought on by camera shake.

You can form your own opinion on these, but it does bring out a little more detail. Note if this was a cut out "monster" on the car window, one should not expect any compensation for motion blur.


One final feature caught my attention and that was "a neck that was swinging side to side over the water." Now you may think this is a counter-intuitive action when moving forward, but it is a feature reported on at least two occasions and they are both land sightings. The first was the William MacGruer case where it was seen "twisting its head from side to side" and the second was the Una MacPherson case with a "relatively slender neck, and it turned from side to side". In both of these cases, the object was also moving forward. That doesn't prove everything is true, but it is an interesting point.


As an aside, the witness took a considerable bit of flak on another forum when he refused to publish the picture. Part of that would be the usual sceptic disdain, but some of it I suspect was an attempt to goad the witness into publishing, which he resolutely refused to do. Whatever the mix of intentions, witnesses with a story to tell may be deterred from coming forward when they see exchanges such as this. That is very sad, but in the end the picture can finally be published for discussion, though we can expect attempts to debunk it which will likely focus on the usual photoshopping tricks.

The author can be contacted at