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This weekend will no doubt be a busy one for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in our Waterhouse Gallery. The exhibition closes here at the Museum on Sunday 23 March. However, it's at the later time of 20.00 GMT as we've extended opening for the last day (last admissions are at 19.15 so you have time to view the exhibition).

 

On Saturday, the exhibition also stays open a little later until 19.15, so book your tickets now if you don't want to miss out. On both evenings, you can also dip into tapas at the bar in the Deli Cafe between 17.30 until 19.30. Check out the exhibition page for more details.

 

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Light path by Charlie Hamilton James, runner-up in the Behaviour: Birds award category, WPY 2013 competition. Select images to enlarge.

 

Making one last tour of the gallery this morning, I noticed the tiny details in this vivid shot of a kingfisher taken by Charlie Hamilton James in Gloucestershire. The focus may be the motion blur of the bird's dazzling feathers, but look closer and you'll spot a tiny fish in its beak and another attentive kingfisher far away in the distance (the other parent). That's the joy of seeing these unforgettable photographs close up and so beautifully lit in the gallery.

 

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The magical kokerbooms by Ugle Fuertas Sanz, commended in the Botanical Realms category, WPY 2013 competition.

 

Stars twinkling over kokerbooms on one enchanted night in Namibia is another one - the image comes alive when you stand in front of it. You're beamed into that dream sunsetting scene.

 

To come across a family of endangered Amur leopards in Russia's Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve is a rare and extraordinary sight. Valeriy Maleev's composition of the staring leopards caught in the act among the deer carnage, and blending into the pale jagged rocks, has incredible impact close up.

 

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Survivors by Valeriy Maleev, runner-up in the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Species, WPY 2013 competition.

 

The exhibition of these 100 award-winning images is already on its UK tour, so even though it closes in London this weekend, it will open in Edinburgh and Cardiff shortly with more venues to follow. The 50th competition winners will go on show in the Waterhouse Gallery later in the year in October.

 

If you've entered the 50th competition, check out the jury who have now started their selection process, with the final judging rounds due in April.

 

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February is such a short month I can hardly believe that it’s time for our Lates with MasterCard again. But here we are and it’s looking like a really fun line-up. This month we have our first late night opening of Extinction: Not the End of the World? our latest special exhibition taking a look at the role of extinction in the evolution of life.

 

I had the chance to look around it just before it opened and can honestly say I was blown away. There are some fantastic specimens and fascinating interactives, including videos on conservation work, voting booths where you can have your say on big questions relating to extinction and an extinction computer game (that I probably spent far too long playing!).

 

Special exhibitions usually sell out at Lates but if you book early and bag yourself a ticket I’d recommend you spend a bit of time reading messages on the ‘wishing tree’, a place designed for visitors to write down their thoughts about life on Earth and leave them for others to see.

 

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Of course this month also is the time of year that we bid a fond farewell to Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Lates. This Friday is your last chance to see the amazing photos from this year’s competition after hours so if you haven’t seen it yet and would like to, this could be your chance. It’s hard to choose a favourite image amongst such an impressive and diverse selection of photos but I think the one that stands out for me is the commended ‘Relaxation’ by Jasper Doest (below).

 

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But Lates isn’t all about the exhibitions. This month our Crazy Artistes are back to put your speed-sketching skills to the test with real Museum specimens. Find them in the galleries and see if you can draw a dinosaur skull or a badger in just ten minutes. They’ve been squirrelling away prizes from all over the Museum so who knows, you might even win something.

 

We’ve also got a truly fascinating discussion event taking place in the Museum’s Restaurant. Addressing huge questions about extinction, this month’s we'll be considering whether or not we could, or indeed should, bring extinct species back from the dead.

 

Bringing Back the Dead has three brilliant expert speakers and you’ll be able to have your say and ask questions directly to the experts. Charlotte in our Nature Live team has been busy preparing the content and you can read more about it on the Nature Live blog here.

 

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Once again, our increasingly popular open mic night will be returning in Central Hall. I’m getting more and more emails from musicians wanting to play and now spend most of my lunchtimes watching spectacularly talented people performing on YouTube. We’ve narrowed it down to our favourite eleven for this month and some of their videos are below. Make sure you check them out below.

 

So, if you’re free on Friday (and even if you aren’t) you should definitely pop along and visit us at Lates. We’d be delighted to see you there!

 

More information about Lates with MasterCard

 

Andy Glynn

 

 

Miranda Quammie is a singer, songwriter, piano player and native of Stoke Newington who combines elements of folk, classical and pop to captivating effect on her debut album, Tempest.

 

 

 

Acoustic London-based duo, August and After, weave abundant vocal harmonies onto a bed of intricate guitar arrangements and story-telling lyricism.

 


 

Ki Yoshi is a soulful singer-songwriter from Camden.

 

 

 

Australian born singer/songwriter/guitarist/ukulele enthusiast Angela Ashby brings joyful acoustic melodies with occasional rocking rhythms to your ears.

 

 

 

Hailing from the south coast, Tom Bradley blends his laid back beach sounds with his soulful vocals, drawing comparisons to the likes of Jack Johnson and Paolo Nutini. His songs range from reggae tinged summer anthems, to harmony-laden Fleetwood Mac throwbacks.

 

 

 

Winnet’s background as ballet dancer and actress gives her a unique charismatic quality as a performer on stage, which compels her audiences and embellishes both the style and subject of each song. This coupled with her own individual vocal timbre marks her as a tremendous new comer to the business. An utter delight to watch.

 

 

 

Bluesy, big-voiced singer-songwriter Hayley Tucker writes songs with a story. Accompanying herself on her acoustic guitar, expect some folky soul with sass.

 

 

 

Ben Lim writes and sings songs, only to slow his inevitable transformation into a robot, by way of his day job.

 

 

Also playing is:

 

  • Sophie Kilburn, a singer-songwriter originally from the Derbyshire Dales who describes her own unique style as a blend of Adele, Eva Cassidy and Lily Allen.
  • Autumn Fox, an acoustic songwriter from Memphis Tennessee promising to bring a flavour of the south into folk / pop music
  • Singer-songwriter R P Williams.
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It's two weeks to go until the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 competition closes for entries on 25 February. Since we launched on 7 January, the images have been flooding in. And photographers have been very appreciative of the new registration and entry process, which we spent many months developing to improve image uploading and editing for entrants.

 

With these precious few days left to get those best shots submitted, I asked Gemma Ward from the Competition office for some thoughts on the kinds of images she always hopes to come across.

'Among the ones that I'd draw attention to from the 2012 competition winners is Dog days by South African photographer Kim Wolhuter. The wild dog is endangered and many photographers have chosen it as their subject in the past. But Kim went about it in a different way by telling more of a story. By including the African wild dog’s environment - the cracked earth – Kim created a graphic yet poignant backdrop that is so apt for this category, which highlights endangered species.'

 

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Kim Wolhuter has filmed Zimbabwe's endangered wild dogs for four years. Dog days won the Gerald Durrell award for Endangered Species in 2012. The mosaic mud landscape epitomises the increasingly fragmented world this puppy is growing up in.

'Another similar kind of mastery can be seen in Dipper dipping by the very young Danish photographer, Malte Parmo. Again, we see many images of dippers, but this one is actually 'dipping'! I love the way he really caught the essence of this bird in his picture and its full of 'caught-in-the-act' energy.'

 

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Young Malte Parmo was commended in the 10 Years and Under award for his image of these birds at a stream near his home in Copenhagen. He said of Dipper dipping, 'I think I managed to get the feeling of running water and an almost vibrating active dipper, its head under the water looking for food.’ Select all images to enlarge.

'Two other good examples of contrasted creativity,' says Gemma, 'are Sandra Bartocha's experimental Light show in the Creative Visions award category and Robert Zoehrer's geometric Hare in a Landscape which deservedly won the Nature in Black & White category.'

 

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Light show: As the snow started to melt and a thick fog wrapped itself around the forest near her home in Potsdam, Germany, Sandra Bartocha experimented with a mirrorless camera and tilt lens to get the layers of sharpness and blurriness in this magical image. Her picture was specially commended in the 2012 Creative Visions award category.

'We never know what images we receive year to year - waiting for the judging to start is always exciting - but I can’t wait to see fresh pictures; images that we haven’t seen before which wow the jury and raise the bar yet again and which play an important role in moving the competition forward.’ Gemma Ward, Competition office

 

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Hare in a landscape won the 2012 Nature in Black & White award. Robert Zoehrer's photo of a motionless brown hair sitting in a steep, yellow ploughed field lacked a focal point when it was in colour. ‘Once I saw the image in black and white,’ says Robert, ‘not only was the stark geometry highlighted but also the small hare became the centre of the composition rather than being lost among the colour.’

 

March will see the start of Round 1 in the judging process, when the immense challenge of sifting through all the 1000s of entries begins.

 

Find out about entering the 2013 competition

Visit the 2012 exhibition at the Natural History Museum in its final weeks

Interview with Roz Kidman Cox, wildlife and environmental writer

 

To give you some insight into the judging process and what kinds of things the judges consider in the selection process, we recently interviewed Roz Kidman Cox. Roz has been involved with the competition since 1981 and judged 32 of them. Here's what she has to say:

 

1. What’s more important – good equipment or a good eye?

Roz: Top equipment doesn’t make a top photographer – if it did, everyone would be taking marvellous pictures. With wild subjects, you do need certain lenses to get close enough for certain pictures. So equipment can be a limiting factor, for underwater photography in particular. But without a good eye and some heart and soul, you need a lot of luck to take a truly top shot.

 

2. Can you describe the moment you’ve found a winning photo? How does it make you feel? What makes a photo stand out?

Roz: It can be truly exciting to see a beautiful or outstanding picture make it to the top – that’s part of the joy of judging. (And there is often real sadness when a picture doesn’t quite make it.) Originality is often a crucial element. But it isn’t everything. A good picture has to last – and last – and move you every time you see it.

 

3. Can you tell the difference between an amateur of professional photo?

Roz: No, not when it comes to the finals. And that’s the beauty of judging anonymously. Of course, a technically bad picture is not likely to have been entered by a professional, and so in the early stages, it is possible to guess.

 

4. What are your favourite images from the 2012 competition?

Roz: The winning image this year, Paul Nicklen's Bubble-jetting emperors, is a picture I will never get tired of. And Steve Winter's Last look in his winning Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year sequence, is the most beautiful portrait of one of the last wild Sumatran tigers anyone will see.

 

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Last look by Steve Winter, in the sequence that won him the 2012 Wildlife Photojournalist Award, is one of Roz's favourites from 2012's winners. Steve's challenge to photograph this shy and critically endangered Sumatran tiger was to be in exactly the right position to get the tiger lit up centre-stage in front of the dark forest habitat.

 

5. Which categories are least popular?

Roz: I’m not sure that ‘popular’ is the right word. If you mean numbers of entries, portraits always comes to the top, presumably because it is far easier to take a good portrait than, say, to take a beautiful shot that also shows behaviour. Among the three behaviour categories, birds always comes out on top, because there are more birds than mammals (and lots of birdwatchers who become bird photographers). But few people seem to specialise in macro-photograph, which is why the ‘other animal’ behaviour category has comparatively few entries. But in terms of popularity of choice, I would suggest urban wildlife is at the bottom, as few people seem to choose to photograph subjects in an urban setting, though it is open to all to do so, whatever your equipment or situation.

 

6. Why do some photos get moved into different categories?

Roz: If there is a particularly strong picture in a particularly strong category that would do better in another one, we may move it at the very last stages of judging.

 

7. How likely/unlikely are you to pick photos which raise current political issues?

Roz: If a photograph makes you think, it will stand out in the judging. And if the subject is something which is both important and current, that will add to the power of the picture. So, yes, the judges will select shots that communicate powerful messages that are relevant.

 

8. How important is the message behind the photo rather than the beauty or technical excellence of the photo itself?

Roz: The aesthetics are what are judged first in all cases. Pictures entered for the World in our Hands or the photojournalism awards need to have a message or a story, but they must also be technically and aesthetically strong. So a picture of a very rare animal or bit of behaviour may not get through to the end if it isn’t also aesthetically strong.

 

9. How much of the picture information is read out to the judges – how anonymous is it really?

Roz: We judge the pictures blind, and we don’t see any of the information supplied by photographers. So if a picture needs to tell a story, that story has to be apparent. We may, however, ask the manager for details of the shot itself, e.g., where and how it was taken, if we are worried about anything, or even ask for the photographer to be contacted with questions, if there is a particular concern.

 

10. How subjective or objective are you / can you ever be as a judge?

Roz: Judging can never be totally objective unless there is a black-and-white/yes-no system of scoring. But there are enough judges to make sure that there is a consensus when it comes to selecting the final one hundred, and a good-enough mix of nationalities and backgrounds. And, yes, everyone’s cultural background affects their likes and dislikes, and everyone brings with them a memory storehouse of imagery.

 

11. Have you ever seen photos go through to the final selection that you haven’t agreed with?

Roz: Yes, of course – and ones drop out that I would have liked to be included. But that is part of the judging process. The great thing about the display of the final selection is that winning and commended pictures are displayed at the same size – only the overall winner is shown larger. This was a decision taken in the early days, to recognise that commended pictures can be as good as the winning ones.

 

12. What happens if there is stalemate / tie?

Roz: There can’t ever be a stalemate as there is always an uneven number of judging in a session. Also, the chair does have the power to intervene.

 

13. Will it count against someone if their image has been widely seen?

Roz: If your image has been widely seen, it will lose in freshness and impact. That said, if it is strong enough, it should last, however many times it is seen. Few, though, are strong enough. What certainly won’t get through are imitations of past winners or of well-known compositions.

 

14. What would you hope to see from our young competitors?

Roz: Originality and an eye for a good composition are what stand out. The subject certainly doesn’t have to be exotic or rare.

 

15. What tips do you have for young competitors entering this year?

Roz: A young person who knows their subject well will sooner or later find the opportunity to take something different or original. They will know when and where and will have time to work out how, which sometimes requires fieldcraft as much as technical knowledge.

 

16. What kind of photos would you like to see more of?

Roz: Personally, I think it is a shame we don’t seem more pictures of plants, pictures that convey their beauty or extraordinary nature. I also think there are so many missed opportunities that to take memorable pictures of nature in urban situations.

 

17. Do you have a sense of responsibility, as a judge?

Roz: Most certainly. The evenings during a judging week are spent worrying about whether you have made the right decision.

 

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The jury gathered at the Natural History Museum for the final round of the 2012 competition judging.

 

18. What is the experience of judging really like?

Roz: Judging can be quite stressful and is certainly demanding. You have to keep questioning yourself and your own decisions, you have to be capable of expressing just why you do or don’t want a picture to go through and you have to be able to resign yourself to a majority decisions. It’s a feast of imagery, but that also means you have to have breaks in between to let the pictures rest in your mind. Often when you return to see the same pictures again, the impact of those first impressions will have faded enough for you to be able to let go of some shots. And the fact remains, that you have to look for reasons to exclude pictures if thousands are to be reduced to hundreds. But what is remarkable is how the best pictures retain the strength of those first impressions.

 

19. What is the atmosphere like in the judging room?

Roz: There’s always a good atmosphere. It’s an exciting and challenging thing to do, but we don’t come to blows (and only once in more than 30 years do I remember an unproductive argument). We do, however, argue strongly if there is a division of opinion, with the chair acting as mediator. Such discussions are often thought-provoking and stimulating, especially with such a variety of judges from different cultures and countries. It does get tiring, though, seeing so many pictures. So a plentiful supply of coffee and tea is essential, as are breaks.

 

20. What makes the contest so unique?

Roz: It is the world’s biggest showcase of photographs of nature, and it is still the most prestigious, which is why even the top photographers enter. To win or be commended in this competition really does mean something, and many careers have been made through the coverage that winning has brought.

 

21.  Where do you think the competition is going / where would you like it to go? How has it changed?

Roz: In the years before the internet, the publication and exhibition of the winning and commended pictures was often the only way that wildlife photographers in different countries got to see and learn from each other’s work. So it became an important showcase and visual education for many aspiring photographers. The quality as well as the quantity has continued to rise as more people have access to cameras and as evolving digital equipment has allowed photography of subjects and situations that wouldn’t have been possible just five years ago, let alone in the days of film. I would hope the annual collection of imagery continues to inspire and that all the different audiences who view it worldwide are continually reminded just how amazing and beautiful the natural world is. The competition also has a role to play in showing how important photographs can be in storytelling. Finally, I still hope that, one day, the art world acknowledges that pictures of wild places and wild creatures can be regarded as art.

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2012 was an amazing year for our monthly Lates with MasterCard event. We had spectacular special exhibitions, we launched our open-mic night in the Central Hall and introduced a popular speed-sketching activity with the Crazy Artists.

 

Our final Lates of 2012 in November saw our highest visitor numbers ever with over 4,000 people attending and we’ve been collecting lots of feedback about how we can make the event even better.

 

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(Click images to see them full size)

 

So with your suggestions in mind, we’ve made some changes to the 2013 event to ensure everyone has a brilliant Friday night at the Museum.

 

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Many of you wanted to visit the beautiful and imposing blue whale after hours and we have listened so, this month, we are opening the Mammals (blue whale) gallery at Lates for the first time in two years.

 

Our lovely sponsors are adding to the updated event by introducing an exclusive MasterCard cocktail bar in the Images of Nature gallery. If you have one, just flash your MasterCard and you and one guest will be able to get in and enjoy some delicious mixes.

 

We’re gearing up to the opening of our newest exhibition, Extinction: Not the End of the World? next month and so have been busy preparing a fascinating discussion event to kickstart the proceedings. So, on Friday, we have three experts debating the potential for human extinction and you’ll get the chance to ask your questions and meet the experts. You can find out more and book tickets here.

 

The ever popular Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is open until 22.30. It usually sells out well in advance for Lates with just a handful of walk-up tickets available on the night, so make sure you book early to see the exhibition in the evening.

 

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This month’s line-up of open-mic artists is as strong as ever with performances by The Chain, Peter and Susanna, Justin Manville, Two of a Kind, Marian Woods, Andy Kempster, Adam Black and Fran Taylor. You can get a sneak peek of some of their music by checking out the videos below.

 

So we hope you enjoy this month’s Lates and if you have suggestions for activity you’d like to see at future events you can always email them to the team at after-hours@nhm.ac.uk.

 

Check out the website for a full rundown of everything open at Lates on Friday.

 

Andy Glynn

 

 

 

 

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So summer’s definitely over, but autumn brings with it our spectacular Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

 

This Friday 26 October's Lates with MasterCard is the first late opening of the exhibition and what an exhibition it is! If you haven’t had a peek at the line-up of winning images, you can do so on our online gallery but there’s nothing quite like seeing the full show so make sure you get your tickets early for this Friday if you’re planning on coming along.

 

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Paul Nicklen's Bubble-jetting emperors is the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year winner. Get up close to this and 99 other prize-winning photographs in the exhibition open late on Friday evening.

 

This month we’re bringing back our increasingly popular Open-mic in the Central Hall and we’ve got 11 awesome performers. They’ll be playing from 7pm until 10.30pm and we’ve got a fantastic mix of artists. With everything from country to rock and pop it’s bound to be a great night. Get a taste of one of the performers, Marie Naffah, in this video, and see some of the other performers' videos at the end of this blog.

 

 

This month we also have some really exciting activities going on at Lates. Join our discussion event exploring the pitfalls and possibilities of a manned mission to Mars in our unique event, Should We Go To Mars? This event is ticketed and you need to book online in advance.

 

Our amazing half-term Campsite event will be opening an evening early for a special preview. With film screenings in campervans, human-sized cabinets where you can label yourself a specimen and a real polar tent in the mix, you can have yourself an indoor-outdoor adventure in the Darwin Centre. The Campsite will be open from 7pm – 9.30pm.

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Get a taste of the Campsite mobile festival of campervans, caravans and pop-up tents, arriving here on Friday evening. Right, join the crazy artists for some entertaining speed-sketching.

We’re also saying bonsoir to our Crazy Artists who are back and crazier than ever with a night of speed-sketching that will knock your socks off.  Can you sketch a squirrel in 10 minutes? Or draw a dinosaur? Or paint a porpoise? The Artists are here to put your skills to the test. Every 15 minutes between 19.00 and 21.00 the artists will bring out a specimen from the Museum’s collections. You’ll have 10 minutes to draw it before they cast their expert eyes over your work and choose a winner to take home a Natural History Museum prize.

 

If all that wasn’t enough, we’re opening the Dinosaur gallery, and you can get into the Halloween spirit in the Creepy Crawlies gallery, which is open for the the first time ever at Lates,

 

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Satisfy your curiosity about locusts (above), ants, butterflies, crabs, spiders, termites and 1000s of their relatives in the Green Zone's Creepy Crawlies gallery.

 

And with all that going on you’re bound to be peckish, so why not warm up with our tasty new pop-up restaurant menu? Featuring venison and wild boar stew, dumplings and mashed potato, you won’t be hungry for long.

 

So it looks like this is going to be one of our busiest Lates ever and I hope you all enjoy it. As always, if you do come along, please let us know what you think on the night or you can email the team at after-hours@nhm.ac.uk.

 

Andy Glynn

Visitor Events Manager


Open-mic performers at this month's Lates

 

Calvin Roche performs a variety of sounds from upbeat to chilled acoustic featuring amazing bass and vocals.

 

Clinton Tavares is a singer/songwriter from Watford that is currently playing open mics all across London.

 

 

 

Daniel Corsini plays acoustic folk with influences from Ray Davies to Kenny Rogers, to cups of tea, to sleeping in the sun.

 

 

 

Glen Kirkham is a star in waiting. His unique high-note harmonies and distinctive acoustic guitar playing produce a stunning synergy of blues and rock/pop.

 

 

 

Icicle Tree are an established folk fusion band from Surrey that plays memorable songs with distinctive melodies, creative arrangements and a truly identifiable style.

 

 

 

Jakob Deist, originally from South Africa but now based in Essex, is an amazing acoustic performer who blends a mix of pop, blues, rock and indie sounds. His new album, The Owl and the Crow, is out soon.

 

 

 

Kaitlyn Haggis, our youngest open-mic performer to date, is a teenage singer/songwriter from North London. She’s been developing her own material over the last 12 months and is currently recording her first EP.

 

 

 

Lucie Zara is a singer/songwriter from Devon. Her music has been described as a fusion of folk guitar, quirky lyrics and soulful vocals.

 

Marie Naffah is bound for big things, according to Love Music Love Life Magazine, who say: “With features on Balcony TV, Absolute Radio, XFM and her track about a girl who has lost her sight featured as top video of the week on NME breakthrough, this is just the beginning for the 20-year-old. You can expect to hear a lot more as she is set to record her new EP over the next few months.”

 

Paul Howley
Original soulful folk, big poppy choruses and some of the smartest lyrics in town.

 

The Frisbys
Often compared to the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Frisbys write memorable folk/pop songs. Expect delicate folk textures and soaring harmonies from this four-piece.

 

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The ruffled raven in John Mariott's Fluff-up and Steven Kovacs' freaky-faced jawfish, aptly entitled Father’s little mouthful, are two of the photographic stars that will appear in the 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which opens to the public here at the Museum on 19 October.

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Today we announced tickets going on sale and now wait eagerly for September when all the commended images will be unveiled on our website. As the weeks go by, you'll see more of Mariott's portrait (left) which has been selected to be the publicity image for the exhibition.

 

Since the 2012 competition closed in February this year, the judges have spent many days and nights whittling over 48,000 international entries down to 100 winning pictures. There were photographs from 98 countries and new entries this year from Mozambique, Kazakstan, Svalbad and French Guayana.

 

As usual, the winners and runners-up from the competition are strictly embargoed until the award-winning ceremony in October, but I'm told that - unlike some previous years - all 18 categories have winners this year.

 

Father's little mouthful (below) is the only official preview image revealed now in all its gorgeous glory.

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Steven Kovacs' Father's little mouthful, one of 100 images entered into the 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition which will light up the new exhbition. It shows the strange phenomenon of the male jawfish protecting its offspring in its mouth until they are ready to hatch. Select the image to enlarge it.

To get his technically challenging shot of the diligent dad jawfish, which was taken off the coast of Florida, Canadian photographer Steven Kovacs used three strobes and home-made snoots - tubes that control the direction and radius of light. He recalls:

 

'What struck me about this particular jawfish when I first encountered it was how docile and unafraid it was of my presence. Most jawfish will retreat into their burrows when approached closely, but this particular fish did not seem concerned and did not move at all even when I came very close.

 

'I had been recently experimenting with snoots placed over my strobes to create different lighting effects on my subjects so when I realized how cooperative this subject was I immediately knew it had potential...This jawfish allowed for ample time to work with different strobe positions at very close quarters.

 

'It always provides a great sense of satisfaction when all the elements come together in a technically difficult photograph. To create something different and beautiful is why I photograph. It has been a dream of mine for years to win a place in this competition.'


As judge Soichi Hayashi says of Kovacs' portrait: 'This image has a strong sense of mystery. Epecially impressive is the delicate and elaborate lighting, which gives it a ghastly power.'

 

We look forward to many more weird and wonderful wildlife apparitions when the exhibition opens on 19 October.

 

Visit the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition website

 

Book tickets for the 2012 exhibition

 

Join the wildlife photography community online

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On Sunday 11 March at around 5:50 GMT, the Waterhouse Gallery doors at the Museum will close on the current Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This year's showcase of winning photos - the 48th one since we set up the competition - has been a huge hit, as ever with this popular show. It was nominated three times during its run as Time Out's Critic's Choice.

 

Over the last few weeks, the exhibition shop has been busier than ever ringing up sales of the 2011 exhibition Portfolio book, calendars, retro cameras, fridge magnets and, of course, the beautiful prints to remind us of this year's winning photographs. It's no surprise that the print that most people wanted to own was of this little cutie, who lives high up in China's Qinling Mountains (where many of us may never travel to in our lifetimes). The Tiny warm-up photo was the runner-up in the 2011 Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Species.

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Tiny warm-up by Cyril Ruoso captured the vulnerability of China's endangered golden snub-monkeys. The youngster was one of a band of about 70 monkeys living high up in China's Qinling Mountains, surviving on lichen, leaves, bark and buds. This particular subspecies probably numbers no more than about 4,000. The image was the favourite from this year's exhibition print range.

One of the vital things about this exhibition is that in the latest and best photographs of life, and sometimes death, on our planet, we get closer to creatures and corners of our natural world we wouldn't otherwise know about. And in the stories behind the photos and of the individuals who took them, we learn about important things affecting our environment. The overall 2011 Veolia Enivronnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year winner, Daniel Beltra, is testament to that with his unforgettable Still life in oil image of rescued pelicans from Louisiana's catastrophic oil slick.

 

Whizzing through the gallery one last time - I always wish I could linger more - I realise again how brilliant it is to see these pictures close up and how the back-lit installations bring out all the details, colours and contours so intensely. Working on the exhibition's website as I do, these are things that I sometimes miss.

 

I've got lots of favourites from this year. Here are a couple that will haunt me after my last exhibition visit.

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Fading beauty by David Maitland (above) is incredibly deceptive. It looks like a painting, but the stylishly-shot mass of poppies was photographed on David's local car-park embankment in Wiltshire last summer. Sadly, three days after David captured them in full bloom (before most had seeded) someone weed-killered the lot! So there will be no poppies to brighten up his car park this year.

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Wings of a gull by Jan van der Greef is startling close up with its ethereal iridescent quality. The herring gull's wonderful wing motion and the shimmering stream of water from its legs were taken by Jan on a boat trip in northern Norway. He went to photograph white-tailed eagles, but instead was mesmerised by the gulls. The 2011 exhibition will be remembered for its abundance of breathtaking bird imagery.

The 2011 exhibition has already started its UK and international tour so there are plenty of chances to catch it outside of London.

 

Behind the scenes, the judges of this year's 2012 competition are now shoulders-deep in the first round of the selection process for the shortlist of winners. They have the highest amount of entries ever to contend with - so good luck to them.

 

We'll keep you posted on the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year website of news on the judging and tour updates.

 

And we're now putting the finishing touches to Wild Planet, a free outdoor exhibition of classic shots from Wildlife Photographer of the Year, opening on the Museum's east lawn on 23 March. Check our website for details of this coming soon.

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It may be a mild January so far, but inside the Museum there's a distinctly Antarctic atmosphere. After the mammoth operation that was the royal opening of our Scott’s Last Expedition exhibition last week (see the recent What’s New blog for the news) I had been ‘pacing myself’ on the return back to normality (i.e. slacking) this week. But I was instantly revitalised on discovering that this Friday’s After Hours with MasterCard is listed in both Time Out's Critics Choice and the Daily Telegraph as one of the top things to do this weekend in London.

 

The reason this After Hours has been picked out in this delightful fashion is because we have two top exhibitions opening late, and it won’t cost the earth to come and see them, always attractive at this time of the year.

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A ticket to Scott’s Last Expedition is £9 (£8 excluding voluntary donation) and it will give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see artefacts and specimens from the expedition on display together in Britain for the first time (above). It is also a great opportunity to take on board the facts around the 1910-1913 Terra Nova expedition and to glean something of the heroic natures of the men who went out on that terrible journey, a journey embedded in the national psyche.

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Scott films: Glimpse the shell-shocked-looking Apsley Cherry-Garrard (left) and the ordeal of the 'worst journey in the world' to Cape Crozier in 1911 to collect Emperor penguin eggs (right) in our online video or in the exhibition cinema.

 

Specimens on display include one of the three Emperor penguin eggs collected by Dr Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard (above left) during the permanent darkness of the Antarctic winter, which were donated to the Museum by Cherry-Garrard on his return to Britain. The eggs were collected under horrendous conditions at Cape Crozier and you can find out about the renowned worst journey in the world in our film.

 

Famously, Scott, Wilson, Edgar Evans, 'Titus' Oates and Bowers, died in 1912 on the journey back from the expedition's attempt on the South Pole. Remarkably during their failed return from the Pole they had with them 35 kilos of geological and fossil specimens that they had collected and hauled by sledge. Not even when their attempt to get back to base at Cape Evans was obviously doomed did they jettison them to lighten their load. For that reason alone, nevermind their high scientific value, these specimens have a powerful legacy and you can see some of them in the exhibition (above).

 

Many of the contemporary family relatives of the original Polar Party attended the royal opening of the exhibition and it was a great honour to have them present. Prior to the event I had the privilege of talking with Petty Officer Edgar Evans’ grandson John Evans, who sadly was unable to be present on the night. And at the exhibition opening I had my hand held by Lady Kennet, the daughter by her second husband of Kathleen, Robert Falcon Scott’s wife. She and her own daughter were intently studying a large photograph of the expedition party at the time. Although it is 100 years since the Southern Party members died on their way back from the Pole, that felt like history very close up.

 

One member of the family relatives who definitely couldn't attend the opening was Scott's only grandson, Falcon, but for good reason. Falcon is currently in Antarctica to help preserve the Cape Evans hut of the Terra Nova expedition. You can see a film of him entering his grandfather's hut for the very first time here and read about his reactions in our Antarctic conservation blog.

 

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Back on the menu this Friday is the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition - now very much sold out. And for those of you who have been missing it, our much loved Central Hall pop-up restaurant in the Blue Bar, returns (above). Here you can indulge any cravings for seasonal comfort food under the shadow of the glowing Diplodocus. If you just want to get a drink, then we have two main bar areas - the Gold Bar, just past the Blue Bar, and the Red Bar in Fossil Way.

 

As usual, there’ll be live jazz and this Friday's special Scott-related event promising a lively discussion on the question Do we naturally need heroes?. Come and join two key speakers, Meredith Hooper and Andrew Morton, to talk about the nature of celebrity and how things have changed since Scott’s death raised him to heroic status.

 

It's also a good time to visit both our exhibition shops and the main Museum shop.

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The search is now on for the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 as the new competition opens today.

 

As ever, this popular and prestigious competition looks for outstanding wildlife photography from both talented amateurs and established professionals, young and old. Images must faithfully represent the natural world while showing technical and artistic creativity over the 18 categories.

 

This year we've got a few category award changes - so look out for these before you enter the competition. We also have a more diverse range of competition judge, 13 and counting as I write this.

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Pelican perspective, winner of 2011's Eric Hosking special award embodies the technical genius and artistic integrity this category is all about. From his kitchen table, photographer Bence Mate planned how he would achieve this image of Dalmation pelicans at water-level. He constructed his own catamaran-style floating photo system and used a fish-eye lens to achieve the remarkable shot taken on Greece's Lake Kerkini. Now 27 years old, Bence steps out of the Eric Hosking Portfolio award age group leaving the frame clear for others.

The Eric Hosking award becomes The Eric Hosking Portfolio Award this year and this special award looks set to be more hotly contested than ever before. This category is open to photographers between 18 to 26 years old, who must submit a portfolio of images that they think represents their best work. Bence Mate's 6 images won this special award in 2011 - he was of course 2010's overall winner too - but now at the grand old age of 27, Bence moves out of this category to make room for new contenders.

 

The Eric Hosking Portfolio award, named after this great photographer whose distinguished career spanned over 60 years, is particularly special because it bridges the gap between the young and the adult photographers in the competition. It's an award that celebrates a body of work which heralds a longevity in a developing photographic career, as well as seeking images that fuse technical innovation with artistic integrity. Bence's Pelican perspective (above) is probably the single image in his winning Eric Hosking portfolio that truly embodies the latter.

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Sandra Bartocha tells how she captured her beautiful snowdrops at sunset: 'I could hear great crested grebes calling. I took an in-camera double exposure image, with one sharp exposure and then one much softer one, so the scene would appear as dreamy as it felt.'

Another award worth a mention is In Praise of Plants and Fungi which for the 2012 competition becomes the more atmospheric-sounding Botanical Realms, exemplified in the 2011 winning image, Harbinger of spring by Sandra Bartocha (above).

 

Female photographers are still somewhat under-represented in the wildlife photographer of the year competition, so it's good to see Sandra's work at the forefront of this category award. And girl power is creeping in too among the young ones. For some reason I imagined this ferocious bug was photographed by a boy. But no, it's the work of a 10-year old Malaysian girl, Hui Yu Kim who's into macro-photography. She liked the look of this Alien looking tropical rainforest beetle (below).

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Hui Yu's Alien won the 10 Years and Under 2011 award. Hui is keen on macro-photography and chose the most colourful animal to take a portrait of. 'It had a strange look, like an alien, but it wasn't angry. It sat still on the branch all the time,' she says. 'I  want people to know that all creatures, even small ones, count. So don't destroy the forest,' she adds.

And if your work is more focused on documenting the relationship between people and the environment, whether constructive or destructive, then consider submitting your images in the new special award category The World in Our Hands.

 

Find out about the competition on the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year website Closing date for the compeition is 23 February 2012.

 

See the 2011 competition winners in the exhibition at the Natural History Museum here - book tickets in advance online.

 

Select images to enlarge them

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'Winter draws on' as my gran used to say, and unbelievably it's our last After Hours with MasterCard of 2011 already.

 

Outside, Ice Rink pealights are wrapped in sparkling coils around the plane trees in the Museum garden and the bright lights of the carousel remind us that the festive season is upon us. And I am now squeaking like Minnie Mouse due to festive laryngitis. My After Hours catering manager, Ed Watts, is promising me a restorative glass of something sparkling laced with Lemsip at our Central Hall bar at tonight's free event.

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At tonight's After Hours do a spot of chilled-out Christmas shopping in our beautiful Museum Shop

Other unusual combinations are on offer at After Hours this week. This is one occasion you can actually chill out and do a spot of Christmas shopping in our Museum shop at the same time – and that is not something one can say of many places in London at  this time.

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I have myself been peering short-sightedly into the jewellery cabinets in our shops looking for present ideas (mostly for me) and there are some beautiful designs and objects based on the natural world at various prices, like our bestselling ‘real leaf’ jewellery range (right). If jewellery isn't your bag we have a very good choice of natural history books, Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year prints, stocking fillers and soft toys, including a Christmassy cuddly reindeer (left) I was very tempted by.

 

You can also experience the unusual combination of dinosaurs and forensic detection - though, sadly, not at the same time - by visiting our iconic Dinosaurs gallery and taking part in Crime Scene Live: The Box of Bones event. Not only are our Crime Scene Live events special, they are also award-winning. Earlier this week the Crime Scene event we held at June’s After Hours won best event in a public space at the Eventia Awards 2011 in London. These awards recognise excellence in the events industry, and ours beat the Royal Wedding live event coverage and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Ryder Cup! We were as pleased as punch.

 

And look out for Drawabout, a theatrical ‘off-piste’ drawing class who will be roaming around, accompanied by a roving minstrel. They'll improvise songs about you if you agree to be drawn! It sounds like great fun and you can take the picture home with you if you like.

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But the main course at our last-one-before-Christmas After Hours with Mastercard is the late opening of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of theYear 2011 exhibition. The exhibition (featured above) is pretty much sold out now, so we hope you have already bought your ticket (although there may still be some at walk-up). Call 020 7942 5725 to see if there are stil some tickets left for tonight. Even if you don't visit the exhibition you can have a browse in the fabulous exhibition shop and enjoy a drink at our bars or a delicious bowl platter at our Gold Café Bar while listening to live jazz.

 

See what Christmas gift ideas to look out for in the Museum Shops

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Tonight, at a star studded awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum, London, the overall winners of the prestigious Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 competition were revealed. The awards ceremony hosts were wildlife expert and Chair of the Judges, Mark Carwardine, and eco lifestyle campaigner and advocate for organic living, Jo Wood.

 

 

The coveted title of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year was presented to Daniel Beltrá from Spain for Still life in oil, a haunting image of 8 brown pelicans rescued from an oil spill, from his 6-image story for the Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award.
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Still life in oil by Daniel Beltra, 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Daniel took his winning image at a temporary bird-rescue facility in Fort Jackson, Louisiana. It’s the final frame in his incredible story of 6 photographs entered in the Wildlife Photojournalist category. Select all images to enlarge them.

 

Describing his winning image, Daniel says:

 

‘Crude oil trickles off the feathers of the rescued brown pelicans, turning the white lining sheets into a sticky, stinking mess. The pelicans are going through the first stage of cleaning. They’ve already been sprayed with a light oil to break up the heavy crude trapped in their feathers.'

 

The sheer simplicity of this powerful image makes it really beautiful and shocking at the same time, ’ said the Chair of the judging panel, Mark Carwardine. He and the international jury of photography experts pored over tens of 1000s of entries earlier in the year to make their winning selection.

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The price of oil by Daniel Beltra. The 6-frame winner of the Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award 2011. Flying over BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 made Daniel grasp the immensity of the problem. Photographing from a plane, Daniel 'was blown away by the insane colours' of oil gushing to the surface. He captured flashes of fluorescent orange as the boat propellers churned up the dispersant and left paths of clean water through the patches of black oil. Oiled brown pelicans awaiting a second bout of cleaning were for Daniel, 'an icon of the disaster'.

 

The Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award category was introduced in the 2010 competition and is given to a group of 6 photographs that tell a memorable story, whether about animal behaviour or environmental issues (both positive or negative).

 

 

Daniel Beltra reflects on his photographic work and interest: ‘It is in nature’s beauty and complexity that I find my inspiration. While in college in Madrid, I studied biology and forestry and developed a passion for the environment. Over the past two decades, I have honed my focus to concentrate on the need for conservation through photography.

 

 

Photographing from the air has allowed me to showcase the stark reality of the state of our environment. This perspective reveals a broader context to the beauty and destruction I witness, as well as a delicate sense of scale.’

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Mateusz Piesiak from Poland was named 2011 Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his image Pester power above, in the 11–14 Years category. The 14-year-old Mateusz spent so long watching this pester power at work as he crawled along the wet sand off Long Island, New York, he didn’t notice the tide coming in until a big wave washed over him. ‘I managed to hold my camera up high,’ he says. ‘I was cold and wet, but I had my shot.’

 

Judge Mark Carwardine described the 2011 Young Wildlife Photographer's winning image, Pester power, as ‘Pin sharp, gorgeous subdued light, interesting behaviour, oodles of atmosphere, and beautiful composition. This would make any professional proud – and is doubly impressive for someone so young.’


Read more about the wildilife photography winners and the competition in the latest news story

 

See the true beauty and power of these images and the other commended and award-winning photographs at the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition when it opens on Friday 21 October.
Book exhibition tickets online now.

 

In the meantime feast your eyes on all the 2011 exhibtion photographs on the website's online gallery.

 

 

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Today lots of eager nature photographers and wildlife lovers will be excited to get a glimpse of the 67 commended wildlife images that have been selected by the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 competition judges.

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Paul Goldstein's Taking flight was photographed in the mists of Lake Nakuru, Kenya. It's one of the highly commended images in the Behaviour of Birds category among the 2011 entries.

Competition in the category awards is always fierce and not every image can be a winner or runner-up. But the judges like to acknowledge those that have been contenders with either a specially or highly commended recognition. And each year in the run-up to the winners announcement and the exhibition opening, we get the chance to preview these commended choices early. This year's commended selection includes these images from three British photographers.

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Territorial strut by Ross Hoddinott records a robin in the unusually cold spell last December in southern Britain. A highly commended image in the Animal Portraits category you'll be able to alight on at the exhibition.

Along with the as-yet-to-be-revealed winners, we think these images are among the best photos on the planet, and they've been handpicked from about 41,000 entries from 95 countries.

 

There are lots of bird images among the entries this year, I'm told. Maybe that's because birds are something that most people can photograph and get close to at home. Also I suspect because they are creatures that will never cease to beguile us with their mastery of flight and multitudinous feathery finery.

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Extreme foraging by Ron McCombe, another highly commended selection in the Behaviour of Birds category. It was taken on the snowy Scottish borders as a red grouse grappled with bitter East winds, recalled Ron.

Come and enjoy these photographs close up among the 108 images to feature in the exhibition when it opens from Friday 21 October in the Natural History Museum's Waterhouse gallery.

 

Read more about the commended images and this year's wildlife competition in the news story


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Yesterday, as we announced tickets going on sale for the forthcoming Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition, we revealed three new images that will star in the exhbition that opens on 21 October here at the Museum. I'm already bewitched by this one.

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Coyote on the tracks, by Martin Cooper (Canada). Many of us Londoners will be enjoying this breathtaking image close-up before stepping inside the 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibiton. It will feature in the exhibition's publicity posters.

These early-released images join the other 105 commended and winning 2011 photographs appearing in the new exhibition in the Museum's Waterhouse gallery. In the gallery, you'll be able to see them close-up, displayed as beautiful backlit installations, with descriptions and camera details.

 

The winning and commended images were hand-picked from about 41,000 entries, that poured in to the 2011 Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The competition office received images from 95 countries and welcomed Cambodia, Moldova, French-Polynesia, Brunei and Kyrgyzstan for the first time. The jury of photography industry experts spent three months coming to a final decision on the best photos.

 

I'm also told that the overall winner this year has now been chosen, but this information is of course shrouded in secrecy until October.

 

Martin Cooper, who snapped his coyote (above) one October dawn, recalled how the shot was taken at his favourite spot for photographing local widlife on a stretch of railway track in Burnaby, British Columbia. He was actually there waiting for a beaver, but grabbed the moment when he saw the coyote appearing from the undergrowth sniffing for the sign of rodents.

 

It's the spontaneity and the light in Martin's coyote photo that really grabs your attention, as much as the skilful photography and composition itself. And this is true of 13-year-old Ilkka Räsänen's Tern style, one of the other images revealed today (below).

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Tern style, by 13-year-old Ilkka Räsänen from Finland really impressed judges with its use of light. It's one of the highly commended images in the 11-14 year-old category of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year young competition, revealed today.

Making an impression, by the UK's awardwinning photographer Andy Rouse, is the other image we have a sneak peek at from the forthcoming exhibition. Andy's exuberant photo (below) captures Akarevuro, a young male mountain gorilla, who charged at Andy and his companions in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

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Making an impression, by Andy Rouse is highly commended in the 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition’s Behaviour: Mammals category. Look out for it in the exhibition.

 

Read the news story to find out more about the about the best wildlife photos sneak preview

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Says Isabella Rossellini - in her video 'Seduce me', showing at our Sexual Nature exhibition.

 

This Friday we say goodbye to this season’s run of late nights for Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year and an enthusiastic ‘helloooo’ to our Sexual Nature exhibition, being unveiled late for the first time at After Hours.

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Tickets for Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year at After Hours have now all gone, but do grab a ticket for Sexual Nature if you are planning to visit us on Friday night. You’ll have topics of conversation for days to come afterwards. As the glowing entrance panel to the exhibition has it – ‘sex has been around for a billion years. Now most animals and plants are at it’. How comprehensively they are at it you will find out on your trip around the gallery.

 

I would say that, for a Friday night dating experience, it would be difficult to beat Sexual Nature. It is entertaining, highly amusing, temperature raising, and you will see things in it that you are not going to see anywhere else on a Friday or indeed, any other night.

Whether it is to find out such interesting nuggets as that the paper nautilus’s arm breaks off during sex and swims to the female; or that orchids got their name from the Greek for testes; to laugh out loud at Isabella Rossellini’s magnificently hilarious filmed interpretations of animal reproduction; to be stopped dead in your tracks by the video of bonobos; to contribute to the amusing chat up lines that our visitors are leaving on the rear wall of the exhibition or to indulge in the eye-popping retail experience where you can pick up a copy of the Kama Sutra, Delta of Venus, some chocolate body paint and some of the most unusual cuddly toys I’ve ever seen – why not give Sexual Nature a whirl at this After Hours? You’ll see some specimens that have never been on display before, and you’ll be taking more than one amazed look at some of them, if my recent trip around the exhibition is anything to go by.

 

SN-exhibition.jpgThis Friday, we’ve also got ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’, the first in our sexually-related Discussing Nature debates, taking place in the restaurant at 7pm. We’ll have a panel of experts ready to address some of your probing questions about sex. There’s also the opportunity at the event to have your questions answered in our anonymous ‘sex surgery’, which could be an opportunity if you are a paper nautilus to find out why your arm breaks off when you are having sex.

 

Thank you to everyone who came along to see Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year at this season’s run.

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If you were fast enough off the mark to have got a Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition ticket at this Friday’s After Hours on 28 January (tickets have now all gone), you will have the opportunity to see some spectacular wildlife photography.

 

But there are more ways than one to capture images of the natural world – and people have tried to represent the natural world for thousands of years, going all the way back to early cave paintings. The Museum holds the finest natural history art collection in the world,  more than 500,000 pieces. Now for the first time, we are putting some  of our collection on permanent public display, in our brand new Images of Nature gallery which opened to the public on 21 January, and you can experience some of these unique images in this gallery at After Hours. Entry is free.

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Located near the entrance to the Darwin Centre, past our Dinosaurs galleries, Images of Nature is sited in what used to be the Spencer Gallery, now beautifully refurbished and back as a public space for the first time in some 20 years. You can cut through it to access the Darwin Centre by the Attenborough Studio and Interactive wall, although I am sure you will want to linger in the space.

 

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I asked Peronel Craddock, the Senior Interpretation Developer responsible for the Images of Nature interpretation to tell us more about what you will find in the gallery.

 

‘Images of Nature is a beautiful, visual exploration of how artists and scientists see the natural world. We're displaying highlights from our world-famous natural history art collection, from 17th century oil paintings, to exquisite watercolours, to contemporary illustration - many of which have never been on display before. Alongside these are images from modern science, showing the enormous range of tools and techniques scientists now have to observe and capture nature.’

 

Peronel says that one of her favourite stories in the gallery features the dodo - two paintings side-by-side, one 17th century, one 21st century that challenges our preconceptions of the dodo as a clumsy, slow-moving bird..The 21st century dodo painting by Museum scientist and artist Dr Julian Hume is shown here.

 

‘Many staff from the Museum have been involved in this project - from renovating the gallery space to planning and building the exhibition, so it's fantastic to see the doors now open and visitors enjoying the gallery. I hope that it will open people's eyes to the diversity of the collections held here, and the fascinating scientific stories behind the art.’

 

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We have the first in our rolling temporary displays within the gallery – some of the beautiful illustrations from the collection of John Reeves, the East India Company’s China based tea inspector and amateur naturalist who commissioned Chinese artists to paint the natural history around them.There are many botanical illustrations included such as this Camellia japonica, 1812-1831, pictured left.

 

Unlike the always charmingly calm and collected Peronel, the Images of Nature launch and the upcoming launch of our new bonkbuster exhibition Sexual Nature (catch it at After Hours from February) have left me with the same ‘in the headlights’ expression sported by the ruffled lemur in the Reeves collection (main image, above). I am looking forward to restoring myself this Friday with one of our new green apple, passion fruit or banana bellinis, available at all of our bars at After Hours. Do join us if you can.

 

Find out what's on at After Hours

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Besides Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Images of Nature, we are running two showings of our very new and very special interactive film, Who do you think you really are? in the Attenborough Studio. And the gloves are off at Science Fight Club, the last in our fascinating Discussing Nature events as our scientists do battle on some important topics. Who will you back to win?