PRETTY as a picture, with dazzling colours and intricate detail or stunningly simple, the natural world around us has a humbling knack for being beautifully photogenic.
And as this selection of striking shots proves, you don’t have to travel to the exotic plains of the Serengeti, to the majesty of the North or South Poles or deepest tropical jungle to capture fascinating images of nature at its best.
These are just a few of the impressive photographs shortlisted for the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick’s annual Nature Photography Awards, many of them captured right here in the Lothians by local amateur photographers.
In all, nearly 450 stunning images of wildlife, plant life and landscapes were selected for the nature centre’s ninth annual photography competition.
Now the trio of judges – photographers Lorne Gill and Graham Riddell along with Scottish Field editor Richard Bath – have whittled them down to just over 100 of the very best, which are now on show for members of the public to choose their favourites.
Included among them are impressive “sharp as a tack” close-up images of a colourful butterfly, creepy stick insect and deceptively detailed dandelion, snapped by primary school-age youngsters alongside spectacular shots of jumping dolphins, white-tailed eagles, the aurora borealis and even tiny water droplets.
The powerful Environmental Impact category shows the intrusion of modern life into the world of nature, and includes striking images by Edinburgh entrant Aileen McLuckie, including one which captures puffins soaring into the air while below at ground level is a rusty pipe. Another shows an electricity pylon artfully reflected in a puddle.
Also included in the section is a provocative image from Dunbar amateur Robin Holliday of small fishing boats left to rot on the seashore.
Many of the other images celebrate the sheer beauty of nature, among them an intriguing picture of a dandelion, shot upwards by young photographer Anna Smart from grass level against a sapphire blue sky.
It’s joined in the Under-12s category by a brilliantly bright image of a butterfly captured sunbathing on a lilac flower by Edinburgh lad Matthew Moore.
The Scottish Wildlife section includes two images from North Berwick photographer Alan Johnstone, including a razor sharp close-up of a beautifully coloured blue damsel dragonfly and another of a busy bumble bee going about its business.
The images – including dozens more – are now on show at the Seabird Centre.
Judge Richard Bath says choosing the top images from hundreds that poured in from as far afield as the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland was not easy.
“It was really tough deciding on the shortlist. There were a huge number of beautiful and creative images which the public now have the opportunity to see in the exhibition – I’m sure they will find them both thought-provoking and inspiring.
“I hope as many people as possible head to the exhibition to vote for their favourites.”
And Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, paid tribute to the talents of the entrants: “The standard of images for this year’s competition has been fantastic.
“They all demonstrate outstanding skill and a real appreciation of the natural world.”
The images are now being voted on by centre visitors. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Scottish Seabird Centre in February.
Winning photographers have the opportunity to secure prizes including trips to the Isle of May National Nature Reserve; memberships for the Scottish Seabird Centre and Scottish Wildlife Trust; photography vouchers and wildlife day trips.