April 29, 2013

What Did Tim Dinsdale See at Loch Ness?

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.

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