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.
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.
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.