'I look for an image that has impact on the page, that is more than a pretty picture or a beautiful shot - it needs originality, something that stands out.'
Lewis Blackwell, Wildlife Photographer of the Year judge 2005
Imagination, a love of nature and a camera are all you need to enter Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Enthusiasts and professionals of all ages and nationalities have until 31 March 2006 to enter their best pictures in the world's largest and longest-running wildlife photography competition. For the first time, photographers from across the globe can enter online on the competition website. Winners will receive a share of the Â£15,500 prize pool and will see their images displayed at the Natural History Museum and in BBC Wildlife Magazine.
'Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year celebrates nature's amazing variety, whether it's in an exotic location or on your doorstep,' said Sharon Ament, Director of Public Engagement at the Natural History Museum. 'Capturing an outstanding wildlife image in your garden can be just as challenging as it is in the jungle. We are proud to involve our new sponsor for 2006 and 2007 - Shell.'
James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK said: 'We are delighted to be sponsoring this wonderful competition. The competition highlights the importance of supporting global biodiversity. This is an area of considerable importance to us as a company and one to which we are keenly committed.'
In addition to online entry, Shell's new sponsorship is giving everyone the chance to vote for their favourite shot during the exhibition in the People's Choice award. A new category for 2006, Creative Visions of Nature encourages photographers to innovate more than ever when capturing wildlife and its environment. Now in its second year, the category Nature in Black and White is open to digital entries as well as film.
The coveted titles Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year are awarded to photographers for the most arresting and memorable images across the competition. They are chosen from categories ranging from Wild Places and Animal Behaviour to Urban and Garden Wildlife and The Underwater World, and three age categories for photographers under 17.
A special awards ceremony will launch the exhibition at the Natural History Museum in October 2006, before it goes on to tour across the UK and the world. The winning images will also be published in BBC Wildlife Magazine, and in a hardback BBC book.
Organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, last year's competition received nearly 17,000 entries from more than 55 countries including New Zealand, Argentina, India, Spain and Canada.
Entry forms are available in the February issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine, from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition Office ( 44 (0) 20 7942 5015) and on the website, www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto