Two of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year images are revealed today as the 2010 global search for the very best images of nature comes to an end.
Oil beetle pose by Juan Jesus Gonzalez Ahumada, shown above, is highly commended in the Animal Portraits category and captures a black oil beetle clinging to a sprig of gorse on a cold spring morning.
Close up, the beetle reminded the Spanish photographer of a beautiful alien.
Esa Malkonen’s image Back in, front out, below, is highly commended in the Nature in Black and White category and depicts the comings and goings of chinstrap penguins in a rookery in Antarctica.
Having paired up, a male and female will devise a rota so that one sits on the eggs for up to five days at a time, while the other walks back to the sea to feed.
Back in, front out © Esa Malkonen / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010
Tickets go on sale today for the annual exhibition of winning, runner-up and commended images, held at the Natural History Museum in London.
The exhibition then tours Britain and venues around the world. More than 1 million visitors are expected to have seen the exhibition once the tour is complete.
‘Now in its 46th year, the competition has become the international measure for great wildlife photography,' says Chairman of the judging panel, Mark Carwardine.
'It plays a crucial role in raising the profile of wildlife photography and stimulating an awareness of nature conservation as the pictures are seen by millions of people around the world.’
The competition is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine and has been running since 1964. It's widely regarded as the most prestigious of its type.