"Brown Bear" taken by Tin Man Lee. (Courtesy of Nature's Best Photography magazine)

The diversity and beauty of nature are on display in an exhibition that will run through Oct. 4 at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

“Nature’s Best Photography at the Workhouse” features 28 images that were taken around the world by professional and amateur photographers. The photos, ranging from panoramic landscapes to extreme close-ups, were judged to be some of the best entries in the annual Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition, held by Nature’s Best Photography magazine.

Stephen Freligh, editor-in-chief and co-publisher of the Reston-based magazine, said the diversity of photographers whose works are represented sets the exhibition apart from many others.

“So often when you see exhibitions, it’s an elite group of photographers or a one-man show,” Freligh said. “The beauty of this is that you’re involving both amateurs and professionals and emerging photographers.

“And so you’re getting people who may have other jobs, as well . . . and they’re as dedicated as some of the professionals,” he added. “The photographers are as diverse as the images themselves.”

"Maasai Giraffe Silhouette" taken by Andy Rouse. (Courtesy of Nature's Best Photography magazine)

Each image on display includes a paragraph written by the photographer, describing the circumstances behind the photo.

Photographer Tin Man Lee of Thousand Oaks, Calif., wrote that he had been fascinated by bears since he was a child, and that he wanted “to capture the mighty power of a grizzly bear jumping for salmon” from the perspective of the salmon. To get the shot, he risked hypothermia by crouching for hours in freezing, chest-deep water at Katmai National Park in Alaska.

“After four hours, I finally got one perfect shot of the bear pouncing toward me with an explosive splash of water,” Lee wrote. “It was, perhaps, the greatest moment of my life.”

Lee’s photo of the grizzly was selected from about 25,000 entries to receive the grand prize in the competition.

Andy Rouse, of Caerphilly, Wales, wrote that he was taking pictures in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya when rays of sunlight suddenly “burst through the clouds.”

“It was incredible,” he wrote. “The problem was that I could not find anything to put in the foreground. Just when I needed them, the elephants, giraffes, and interesting trees were nowhere to be seen.

“Eventually, just as I was about to burst with frustration, a young giraffe strode over the hill and made all my dreams come true,” he wrote.

The result was a stunning shot of the giraffe in silhouette, bathed in sunlight on the African plain. Rouse’s photo earned top honors in the competition’s African Wildlife category.

The exhibition was sponsored by Richard Hausler, former chairman of the arts center’s board of directors, and his wife, Lyndon Skelly-Hausler.

Visitors can purchase copies of the images on display, said Brett John Johnson, director of visual arts for the Workhouse Arts Center.

The center’s McGuireWoods Gallery is a great space for visitors to view the photographs “without being hurried along,” Johnson said.

“One of the fun things about the exhibition is that it clearly highlights the quality of both the exhibition space and visual arts programming in Northern Virginia,” Johnson said. “To have the magazine publish out of Reston and then have it exhibit in this beautiful space in Lorton . . . it really shows the quality of what we have going on here.”

The Workhouse Arts Center is housed in a complex at 9601 Ox Rd. in Lorton that formerly served as a correctional workhouse and penitentiary. It provides studio space to about 60 resident artists and includes programming in visual and performing arts. Entrance to the exhibit is free.

Barnes is a freelance writer.