The entries have been pouring in for the 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition but I can't believe there's just under one week to go before the competition closes.
The entry period has flown by this year, even though there's been almost an extra month due to the early opening in December for the first time. If you want to be in with a chance of winning, you will need to submit the very best of your wildlife photographs and catch the deadline of 23.59 GMT on Thursday 23 February.
The competition is open to everyone, from budding amateurs to professionals to young photographers across the world, but you'll need images that stand out from the crowd to get the judges' notice during the thorough selection process. So, for last-minute entrants, here are a few suggestions:
From those of you just starting out to those of you already firmly established in your chosen field, there are categories for everyone. Whatever your favourite subject is, be it plants, insects, reptiles, underwater shots, landscapes, urban wildlife, mammals and birds, or more find the category that is best-suited to your skills and interests before you enter. And if you can tell a riveting story through a series of themed photographs, then the photojournalism category could be the one for you.
Whatever your age or your experience, get the judges to stop in their tracks with a new angle or an evocative and innovative use of technique or framing and you'll be part-way there.
From common subjects to once-in-a-lifetime events, enter photographs that turn them into moments of magic, like this year's Boy meets nature by Alexander Badyaev, Pelican perspective by Bence Máté, Swoop of the sea scavenger by Roy Mangersnes or the techinical simplicity of Great tit poised from one of our youngest entrants in 2011, Corentin Graillot Denaix.
Urban wildlife is full of surprises as captured perfectly in Alexander Badyaev's 2011 winning image, Boy meets nature. From bats in cabins in the Montana wilderness, to coyotes on railway tracks in Canada's Burnaby to Moorish geckoes on the Italian Riviera, last year's winners in this award really captured the moment. (Click images to see them full size)
We must have all seen pictures of pelicans before, but none quite like this. Bence Máté's award-winning photograph doesn't just provide a different perspective, it frames the pelican's most recognisable feature in a fantastically unique way and was just one of a captivating series that won Bence the Eric Hosking Portfolio Award in 2011.
With its striking silhouette and the tight-framing of its subject, Roy's highly commended photograph successfully reflects the sheer size of the white-tailed eagle shortly after it's successful swoop to scavenge a fish.
Keeping the adult entrants on their toes... one of the youngest 2011 award-winners was Great tit poised by Corentin Graillot Denaix in the Under 10 years category. His simple but carefully framed shot was taken in his garden where he observed the birds who visited the hide constructed by his dad.
It's photos like these above that make us catch our breath at the unimaginable wonders of our world. So, whatever your passion, pay heed to some wise words from the youthful Mateusz Piesiak of Poland, the 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Young Photographer of the Year who won with his Pester Power oystercatchers. Mateusz says:
"I started with a compact camera and then in 2007 had a major breakthrough in my development when my parents bought me a digital SLR. I also met several nature photographers who showed me how to approach birds and build special photographic hides. As the months and years passed I learnt the secrets of photography and became infected with the rather incurable disease that is bird photography!
"I think that what counts above all in photography is creativity and the ability to look at a commonly captured subject and make something new out of it, something that nobody has ever seen before."
All the information you need to enter the competition is online, so good luck!
Haven't seen the 2011 exhibition yet? You've got until 11 March to catch it here at the Museum in London (attend in the morning if you can to enjoy more space at the exhibition).
Can't make it to the Museum? See where where it's touring next, throughout the UK and worldwide.