The image, taken looking inland from Fowlsheugh RSPB reserve, near Stonehaven, shows the tornado travelling through rural farmland.
David Gault, 47, of Aberdeen, was walking with his family and taking pictures of puffins at the reserve, when he caught the scene on camera on Saturday.
The renewable energy manager said: “My nine-year-old son spotted the tornado and started shouting to get our attention.
“The funnel was coming down from some pretty dark storm clouds. The tornado must have been a few miles away, but it was pretty dramatic.
“It must have been 50 metres wide at the bottom and it lasted for about a minute.
“Then the funnel went back into the clouds and disappeared. I have not seen anything like it before.”
Some tornados can reach speeds up to 300mph, but Graeme Whipps, Met Office forecaster in Aberdeen, said this twister was unlikely to have caused much damage.
He said: “The cloud is what we would call a funnel cloud. It is effectively the start of a tornado and can sometimes reach the ground, but it will not usually amount to much.
“It happens when there is vigorous convection activity, like the thunderstorms out towards Huntly and Keith on Saturday, but the most damage you might see here would be a branch off a tree.
“If you were near one you might notice it being a lot windier and they are not uncommon during the summer.
“The weather is looking a bit more settled this week so we are unlikely to see any more of these funnel clouds, but there could still be showers.”