Botanics best: wonders of nature caught on camera

A STRIKING photograph of an ant running across a leaf has been named the best image from a stunning selection capturing details from some of Scotland’s top botanic gardens.

The winning entry, by Alan Pyke. Picture: Submitted
The winning entry, by Alan Pyke. Picture: Submitted

It beat strong competition from other beautiful pictures to win the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) Photography Competition 2013.

All the pictures were taken inside four Scottish gardens run by the RGBE; Edinburgh, Dawyck in the Borders, Benmore in Argyll, and Logan in Dumfries and Galloway,

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Judges, including The Scotsman’s picture editor Andy O’Brien, picked out nine winners from among the 246 entries to the fourth annual competition.

The overall winning photograph was taken by part-time teacher Alan Pyke at Edinburgh’s Glasshouse.

The 47-year-old, from Rhu in Argyll and Bute, said: “When I saw a leaf back-lit by a ray of sunlight, I walked over. There was an ant running across it and the silhouette stood out against the vivid back-lit colours.

“I took quite a few shots trying to get the right focus and highlighting before settling on this shot.”

Mr O’Brien said the ant picture had really stood out.

“It was such a striking image, an amazingly vibrant contrast with the ant running over it.”

Mr O’Brien also singled out the black and white photo of the Temperate Palm House.

“It was a long exposure, which has given it a mysterious look with the clouds in the sky. A really arresting image, and a very different way of showing a familiar building.” He also mentioned the picture of the bee on the sunflower, saying: “The composition was superb.”

Judges also selected Alan McNair for first prize in the Garden View and Abstract categories, James Ratchford in the Wildlife in the Garden category and Alexandra McOrist for Plant Portrait.

Ms McOrist said her picture of a Rhododendron yakushimanum plant captured the moment just before the flower opens. She said: “There is always something new and interesting to photograph and nature presents some wonders of bioengineering.”

Mr Ratchford said it was the first competition he had entered and that his win for capturing wildlife in Edinburgh’s Demonstration Garden was a “real boost” and encouragement to continue with photography.

He added: “I visited the gardens on a gloriously sunny day with the intention of capturing the striking colours and movement of the flowers.

“It was impossible not to notice the lively insects buzzing around the wildflowers in the Demonstration Garden. I spent some time waiting for them to rest long enough to get a focused picture. I was really pleased with the outcome.”

This year’s competition raised £732 for RBGE’s Small Projects Fund. The winning photographs will be on show in the RBGE Library Foyer, on weekdays from 5 November to 2 December.

RBGE membership manager Inger Kristiansen said: “The photographers worked hard and the calibre of their entries made selecting the winners a difficult task.”