If I were to make a list of the Worst Nessie Sightings Ever, Jonathan Bright's Nessie photo would have to be near the top of the list. To me it looks like a wave. Plain and simple. And yet he's managed to successfully promote this thing (and himself). He was a featured speaker at Scotland's first Paranormal Festival where he discussed the photo, and most recently his Wave-Nessie was the subject of a write-up in the Daily Mail
Bright took the photo on Nov 2, 2011 while taking a cruise of Loch Ness. That happens to be the same day that the skipper George Edwards [edit: claimed he] took a Nessie photo that he later revealed to be a hoax. (See the list of Nessie Hoaxes
.) But Bright insists that's pure coincidence. [edit: not exactly. Edwards's sighting, Bright explains, is what made him re-examine his photos from that day.]
Bright admits that he didn't immediately notice the presence of Nessie in the photo, and he definitely didn't realize Nessie was there while he was taking the shot. It was only a few days later, as he was examining his photos, that he realized that if he zoomed in on one particular wave, it kinda/sorta looked like the head of a "water horse." Fiddling around with the brightness and contrast helped to accentuate the thing. Also, the picture was taken with an infrared camera, so the colors in the picture were different than what they looked like to the naked eye. (Bright claims it's the first infrared image of Nessie.)
Bright's Wave-Nessie photo came to the attention of a larger audience when it was included in a Nov 2013 issue of Fortean Times, and Nessie believers were then quick to latch on to it.
I actually don't think his photo is a hoax. I would describe it as a case of pareidolia
. He's attributing meaning to a random pattern of shadows in a wave.
Bright has addressed the criticism that the object in the photo is simply a wave, and his argument seems to boil down to the conviction that pareidolia is not an adequate explanation — that if a wave looks vaguely like the head of Nessie that must be because it really is Nessie's head! Any other explanation would be "too much for a coincidence."
Here's what he says on his website
The 'wave/wake' scenario has been discussed at large in my Fortean Times article, where in fact, I do agree that an explanation of a wave simulacrum could be possible. But, as I mention, the problem with this is that, if we agree to accept that not all the Nessie reports are hoaxes or misidentifications and there really is something strange that every now and then people see in the Loch, then according to the Occam's Razor principle, wouldn't it be more likely that what has been captured in the picture is that very same ‘creature’ and the origin of the 'Loch Ness monster' tales, rather than a tricky momentary water sculpture that happens to look like a monster coming out of the water, caught as my finger happened to click the snap button in the single moment that it would have lasted, before the next instant collapsing and be forever gone?... I mean, what if the 'object' looked like some other, more plain creature, a seal, for example, wouldn't it be easier to think that what appeared in the picture was indeed a seal, rather than an amazing liquid idol perfectly mimicking a marine mammal known to inhabit these waters?
Some will protest that with a seal it would be different, since we know beyond doubt that such mammals exist. This is why we have made that initial assumption that a loch ness 'monster' (whatever its nature may be) that is responsible for all those tales and legends at the Loch, really exists… But that simply means that, in the end, it simply gets to whether one believes that 'Nessie' exists, or not. For someone who accepts that she does, then the skeptical way of thinking would suggest that it is the 'monster' captured on this photo, whereas for those who are not convinced of her existence, then the photo could be either accepted as a clue, or perhaps interpreted as an exceptionally strange simulacrum.
But even those who doubt the presence of some kind of 'monster' at Loch Ness could not explain how such a simulacrum showing, not a mermaid, or a unicorn, or even something more realistic, such as a seal or a dolphin, but a strange monster-like head coming out of the water, happened to be randomly formed and snapped at that very Loch which is worldwide famous for its monster... Sure, at times waves can take unusual and even awesome shapes, like for example the gigantic human head that has recently received worldwide coverage by the media as something extra-ordinary, but, ...a monstrous head coming out of the waters of Loch Ness? Isn’t it just a bit too much for a coincidence?
I wonder how Bright would explain something such as the dragon's head in a flame in the photo below, taken by photographer Noel Celis. Because the flame looks like a dragon's head, does that mean it's evidence of the actual existence of Fire Dragons?
It's worth noting that Bright believes Nessie to be a paranormal entity. To my mind, that's a roundabout way of admitting that Nessie as a flesh-and-blood creature, which has to play by the rules of physics and biology, doesn't exist.