What Did Tim Dinsdale See at Loch Ness?

Posted by: Steve Plambeck on April 29th, 2013

Following a Nick Redfern post over in Lake Monsters a couple weeks ago, the ensuing comments turned to a debate of the famous film Tim Dinsdale shot at Loch Ness.  It has since occurred to me there might be one possible explanation for the irreconcilable differences between what Dinsdale was so certain he saw on April 23, 1960, and what he filmed. I don’t know if anyone else has ever ventured this solution, but here’s a go at it.

That the film shows a power boat is now virtually certain, thanks to the enhancement process known as image stacking applied to it in recent years. But Tim Dinsdale was equally sure he saw a live animal in the water, or at least something that could not have been a boat, and Dinsdale was one solid and highly methodical investigator who wasn’t likely to be far wrong about anything of which he was that certain.

So what happened? Go back and look to Dinsdale’s original and highly detailed account (Loch Ness Monster, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961).

He first spotted a reddish brown hump 1300 yards out in Foyers Bay, sitting high in the water, which he then scrutinized carefully through his x7 binoculars. From the sketch in his book it’s clear he saw detail, down to a large blotch on the object’s left flank he compared to the dappling of a cow.

At first it was stationary, but then began to move. It was at this point he decided it best to throw down the binoculars, take up his camera, aim it in that direction and begin filming.

What if he only, and understandably assumed the object in the camera’s small viewfinder that zigged and zagged its way out to a much further distance of 1800 yards was the same object, the hump, he had seen through the binoculars?

Suppose he hadn’t noticed a small angler’s boat was motionlessly floating beyond the hump, perhaps a fisherman putting away his tackle and preparing to head for port. The hump begins to move, perhaps in response to the sound of that boat’s engine starting up, and then submerges while Dinsdale is swapping binoculars for movie camera. He pulls the trigger to begin filming, looks into the viewfinder, and centers on the wake the now moving boat has begun to toss up, unaware this isn’t the object he studied in the binoculars.

Perhaps the pilot noticed the large hump too, and decided now would be a good time to beat a hasty and even evasive retreat.

In this scenario Dinsdale would rightly believe he filmed the “Monster”, not the boat, and having actually seen the hump at closer range through binoculars he would stand firm on this to his dying day.

If all this be the case, then Tim Dinsdale indeed had a sighting, of the classic “upturned boat” type of hump, and observed details of integument previously unreported. He just didn’t get a film of it. But the film he did obtain helped spark serious investigation, and set the foundation for future research at Loch Ness. This must not be undervalued.

UPDATE added May 10, 2013

It was a fun hypothesis while it lasted, but additional research has come my way regarding the probability Tim Dinsdale could have been looking at one object through his binoculars (a hump) while overlooking a second nearby object (the boat, which he subsequently filmed).  And that probability is virtually nil.

The matter hinges on the characteristics of the equipment he used, which is known.  As it turns out, the miniature 7x binoculars he used had a much wider field of view than the viewfinder in the Bolex movie camera, which is exactly opposite my initial guess.  Had there been an angler’s boat close by the object Dinsdale took to be an animal hump, it would have been just as apparent in his field of view.  Now what he filmed with the Bolex has been positively identified as a small angler’s boat, leading to the inescapable conclusion that there could have been only one object, and that object was the boat all along.

The details in Dinsdale’s own illustration of the hump (Loch Ness Monster, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961, page 101), those being the dorsal ridge and the dappling on the flank, had to be a combination of wishful thinking and a trick of memory (he did write the book a year later) as the magnification of those miniature 7x binoculars would have shown him little more than a speck at 1300 yards distance.   In fact, the Bolex film camera lens provided a higher magnification than that of the binoculars, so detail not present in the filmed object could not have been seen in the much smaller binocular image!

But at least we had a lively discussion.


About Steve Plambeck
Steven G. Plambeck is an amateur researcher, armchair paleoanthropologist, and by dint of a long standing interest in the phenomenon associated with Loch Ness may be called an armchair cryptozoologist as well without taking offense. He is the author of "The Loch Ness Giant Salamander" blogspot, and arguably the current leading proponent of the giant amphibian theory regarding the nature of that possible creature.

9 Responses to “What Did Tim Dinsdale See at Loch Ness?”

  1. marcodufour responds:

    Tim Dinsdale later filmed a boat for comparison to compare it to what he saw and filmed, to me they look two different objects.

  2. BobbyMadison responds:

    With respect, there are two portions of film from that day. One was the hump. One was later in the day, when Dinsdale purposely had a boat, with occupant obviously, retrace the exact track the hump took earlier in the day, so there would be a sense of scale. There are various shots of the boat, with obvious pilot, that have been passed off as the shots of the hump. They clearly are not one and the same. Also, as the boat travels, there is an obvious thumping up and down as it crests the waves. With the hump there is a gliding, slicing wake – an object mostly submerged barely parting the water. When the boat is traveling away from the viewer, there is an obvious prop wash. With the hump, none. People seem very, very anxious to discredit the film, but I fear they are using the control shots of the boat to claim that the entire film is only that.

    Complicating matters, the original copy of the film hasn’t been submitted for detailed scrutiny. Just short clips, which has fueled the speculation that there is something to hide. I submit that an educated engineer with binoculars would not mistake a boat for an oblong hump with a blotch on the side, and note a back ridge as well.

    Skeptics will say he was over tired, and badly wanted to see the animal as it was his last day at the loch, so he turned a boat into a hump. I don’t buy it. And I submit that the camera doesn’t buy it either.

    Another thing to consider – why was the “boat” sitting in mid loch, then racing straight at the shore line, and then making a hair pin left turn to hug the side of the loch? Strange behavior for a “boat”. Why not a diagonal path to where it was going? Quicker and more fuel efficient. Why a sharp “L” instead of a diagonal?

    Some thoughts…..

  3. wuffing responds:

    BobbyMadison -I think you are confusing the bouncing boat going into the waves – the “monster sequence” -with the boat on much calmer water about three hours later. The later boat did not follow the same track, but a fairly similar one that did not extend so far across the loch. There is a vee-wake and a prop wash in both sequences. The first sequence was probably viewed (with miniature 7×20 binoculars) and filmed through the glass window of the car which would account for the lower quality; the later comparison sequence was on shot from a tripod out of the car so TD could wave a signal flag to he boatman.

    The reason a Foyers angler’s boat would go straight across the loch and then track parallel and close in to the shoreline towards the River Moriston is because that is where the salmon are and that is what anglers still do.

    There is a confusion of issues here; the real experts at Loch Ness fully accept that Tim Dinsdale was a man of the highest integrity who believed he had photographed an unknown animal. The JARIC analysis of the film was less than rigorous, reinforcing his belief, but recent image-stacking work shows clearly a helmsman near the stern and a probable second person amidships.

    This has no effect on the existence of a monster or on Tim Dinsdale’s sincerity, it merely shows that he did not film one on that occasion.

    marcodufour-the two sequences should look different because they are different boats in different lighting and different wave environments, and the first is less sharp than the second. I note that you have not taken up my offer of direct contact made over a week ago.

  4. johnp3907 responds:

    Is there a site where we can see the video with the recent “layer enhancement process” and “image-stacking” mentioned in the post and one of the comments?

  5. corrick responds:

    Excellent post wuffing regarding results from the latest studies on the Dinsdale film. Great synopsis.

    That said I do have to take exception when you wrote; “This has no effect on the existence of a monster or on Tim Dinsdale’s sincerity, it merely shows that he did not film one on that occasion.”

    While no one doubts Dinsdale’s sincerity, we need look no further than Ken Gerhard’s post from April 26 to see that many people still regard Dinsdale’s film as the “Holy Grail” of Nessiedom. Sort of the P-G film for Loch Ness. Given all the recent information regarding the “Surgeon’s photograph, Robert Rines “data” etc, have to ask. Outside of “eyewitness reports” is there anything credible left that might support the idea of a large unknown creature living in the Loch?

  6. marcodufour responds:

    wuffing- We will have to agree to disagree as you seem to think you know everything regarding the Loch Ness monster, including fake confessions. (You`ll be telling us all that Patterson & Gimlin filmed a man in a suit next.) I didn’t see your offer re direct email, but then you ignored some of my questions and points so why would i need to continue a discourse with you when you think you know it all? I don`t see what would be achieved due to your condescending attitude.

    P.S. What is your take on Robert Rhine`s evidence? or are you going to say that was all a fake, mistaken, revenge on the world? blah, blah, blah.

  7. wuffing responds:

    johnp3907 – there is a reasonable version of the TD film available to UK internet users but you’ll have to ask Craig Woolheater for my email address. Studies and comments on the film are at the following links:

    A day, and a man, remembered.


    Seeing Things Underwater

    corrick – “is there anything credible left that might support the idea of a large unknown creature living in the Loch?” – no, but large moving things are seen, and identifying them is the challenge.

  8. wuffing responds:

    marcodufour – I have tried to establish private contact with you so that I could share some facts in private. That offer was at the end of the salamander thread. I have better things to do with my time than correct the factual errors repeated by someone claiming to be extremely intelligent and highly educated, so I will simply end by pointing out that the most famous American Loch Ness investigator of the past few decades Bob Rines, had no “h” in his surname.

  9. Steve Plambeck responds:

    I’ve appended an update to my original article as of today (see post at top).

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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