The Return of the Lake Monster

The Return of the Lake Monster

Stories of giant serpents, octopus type creatures, cat-faced water spirits and even a plesiosaur-like cousin of Scotland’s “Nessie” living in Devil’s Lake have been told for many generations, but nothing has ever been photographed.  Sure, if you dig around online you might find a blurry image of what I’m quite sure is a floating log….

Well, let me submit for your consideration this photograph that I took from the park’s south bluff last weekend. I didn’t see the shadow in the water at the time. In fact, I didn’t even see it when I first edited the photograph. It wasn’t until I was about to share it online that I noticed what looked like a black smudge. In going back to correct the image, I realized it wasn’t an ordinary “flaw”. It’s not something created by dirt on the sensor or something on the glass. By zooming in I could see it looked much more like a shadow of something just above or below the water. Plainly, it’s not above the water or the object casting the shadow would be in the shot.  What’s more, I snapped 2 shots just a few moments apart and in the second photograph, the shadow had gone! Did some sort of mysterious creature rise to follow those kayakers only to sink back down into the depths of Devil’s Lake moments later?? Insert “mystery music” here!!!

Something in the water...

Something in the water…

Below I’ve zoomed in quite far and it certainly still looks like a shadow on or beneath the water.  Compared to the kayakers in the frame, it’s pretty large…

Zooming In. Is it a shadow?

Zooming In, but otherwise untouched photo. Is it a shadow?

Well, now that the park is quieting down for the season, we expect to see a lot more wildlife on the water. I can tell you this much, I’ll be paying a bit more attention to what’s going on out there this autumn!  And maybe not kayaking alone!


  1. Nic Stage

    IT does look like a shadow in the water, but my primary guess would be a bug flying through the shot. What shutter speed / aperture?

    1. Author

      Hey Nic,

      Yeah, I thought that too, but I think scale, distance, and opacity combined are the problems there. I also think the cropped shot creates an illusion that it’s bigger in the frame than it actually is when you’re thinking about a “bug”. If you look at the full-size image (shot at 28mm) something that would be seen that size in the frame (but close to the lens to get the scale right) like a small bug wouldn’t likely show up that dark or at all in the pic. Just too close to the lens. I’ve shot through lots of gnats, flies, etc., and they normally won’t show up that prominently if they are as close and if they do show up, they are far enough away from the lens to 1. Much bigger in the frame, and be usually somewhat recognizable.

      Something on the sensor can come close to that sort of “smudge” hair, dust..but I’ve never seen that shape created by something on the sensor, the opacity again seems wrong as well, and it’s not in the following shot.

      On the other hand, it could be something bigger, further away, but it doesn’t look right for that either. A bird? I’d have to see it reproduced to think it was a bug or a bird. Even though I agree that yours is the most likely answer. 🙂

      The shot was at 160 6.3 so fairly slow shutter for sure.

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