Monthly Archives: September 2012

Monarch Flakes

Click the photo to view larger and you will see the little Monarch flakes heading into the cherry tree. The clustering Monarchs are well-camoflouged by the autumn foliage nonetheless, their silhouettes are clearly visible in the setting sun.

Another passel of Monarchs poured onto the Point Thursday at dusk, carried in by the warm southerly breeze. Overnight the wind shifted, coming in from the northeast, and by day break Friday morning, the Monarchs had flown from the trees, carried to shores further south by the blustery tailwind.

My Close-up Photography Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum


Registration is still open however, my close-up photography workshop, Nature in Focus, is nearly full. The workshop will be will beheld at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard, at the Hunnewell Building, on Sunday September 3oth, at 9:00 am.  I especially love teaching at the Arnold Arboretum. The facilities are beautiful, the staff wonderfully helpful, and September is a particularly gorgeous month to visit the gardens of the Arboretum. I hope you can join me!

Nature in Focus: Taking Great Close-ups  Kim Smith, Photographer and Filmmaker1 Session: Sunday, September 30, 9:00am–NoonLocation: Hunnewell BuildingLearn tips for taking great close-up photographs from celebrated butterfly and garden photographer Kim Smith. Through slides and hands on demonstrations, Kim will guide you in capturing the beauty of the flora and fauna found in nature. Bring your camera and questions, and a tripod if you have one. You will gain more from the class if first you familiarize yourself with your camera’s manual. (Note: This is not a macro-photography class.) See examples of Kim’s great images.

Fee $40 member, $55 nonmemb

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due (and Monarchs)

Dear Friends,

Recently I attended a lecture given by an expert in a field to which I am passionately involved. I was really looking forward to this lecture and I have on many occasions actively promoted this lecturer. To get to the point, I was stunned to recognize that the third photo into the slideshow was one of my own photos, and it was presented without acknowledgement. I sat stupefied listening to the rest of the lecture. I hoped that no other photos of mine were part of the presentation. Unfortunately that was not the case. One of the last photos presented was one of my best selling photographs and the audience was audibly moved by the photo. It would have been so simple at that point to say something like, “Thanks to Kim Smith, the photographer, who is here with us this evening.”

The following morning I wrote the lecturer a very polite email stating that I don’t mind sharing my work. I simply requested that he use any one of several photos that I attached for him, with my name discreetly added in the lower right corner. In reply I received a curt and condescending note from the lecturer stating he would delete my photos from his presentation and from his files.

I spent three freezing hours before a long workday in a windy wet field hoping to get that shot that the lecturer was using as part of his presentation. Taking credit, either by claiming it as your own, or by lack of acknowledgement is unethical, at the very least. I really empathize with people who experience more extreme cases of appropriation. Some may find this case to be relatively minor; I found it totally unnerving.

I love to share information and photos about wildflowers and butterflies—as my new friend Hannah says, “You am working for the butterflies.” I blame myself for not watermarking the photos, although I believe very sincerely that most people are honest, have integrity, and give credit when credit is due. For example, when Maggie Harper, the producer from the television show Chronicle, borrowed my Greasy Pole footage, they not only ran my name across the top of the footage, they also provided a link to my blog on the Chronicle website. Maggie had seen the footage on Good Morning Gloucester and contacted Joey, who graciously provided her with my contact information. From the Chronicle link, I received many thousands of hits on my own blog. As another example, when a non-profit national wildflower organization wanted to use several photos for their publication, I gladly said yes, and only requested that I receive a photo credit, which they did provide. I am honored and touched beyond measure that people enjoy my photos and films. My policy is the same as many artists in that I request that if someone wishes to use my work for presentation, that they would please let me know, prior to use.

Enough with all that. Many have written requesting information about this year’s Monarch Butterfly migration. I have been shooting daily hours and hours of video and still photos and will be sharing all. I have figured out how to add a watermark in photo shop, but am hoping to find a more efficient and faster method of adding a signature.

Kim Smith PhotoMonarch Butterfly Migration Gloucester Massachusetts 2012

Happy Last Days of Summer!

Many more photos from this year’s migration to come.

Painted Lady or American Lady?

In response to my friend Marty’s question ~

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) ~ Note the two large eyespots on the underside of the hindwing, close to the outer margin.

Marty your photo is that of the Painted Lady. Typically in our region we would most often see the American Lady however, this is an irruptive year for the Painted Lady. There has been a population explosion of Painted Ladies reported throughout New England and beyond, which is especially unusual and interesting because this past spring (2012) was also an irruptive year for the closely related Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).

The easiest way to tell the difference: Painted Ladies have four large spots on the underside of their hindwings, close to the outer margins, which you can easily see in your lovely photo. American Ladies have two “eyespots” on each hindwing, and the spots are considerably larger.

Painted Lady  (Vanessa cardui) ~ Note the four prominent spots on the hindwing.

I am calling the summer of 2012 the “summer of ten thousand butterflies.” Just incredible! I would have answered this is in the comment section, but I don’t know if it is possible to add a photo and will post more in a future post about the two species but am in the middle of making dinner. Did you take this shot with your new camera?

The Velvet Underground

This is definitely not what Lou Reed, John Cale, Angus MacLise, Sterling Morrison, and  Michael Leigh had in mind…

The release of the album Transformer was a seminal moment in our cultural history. The first video features David Bowie and Lou Reed with interesting interviews (with the Little Joe and Holly of the song’s fame), film clips, and photographs of the early days. The video ends abruptly, in mid-sentence.

An oft quoted statement attributed to Brian Eno is, “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”

Lou Reed, John Cale, Angus MacLise, and Sterling Morrison were the four original members of the Velvet Underground. Michael Leigh wrote the pulp paperback The Velvet Underground, from which the band took its name. The book The Velvet Underground is about the sexual subculture of the early 1960s.

Call for Wildflower Locations

While I am finishing editing my Black Swallowtail film, I am also shooting footage for my film about the Monarch butterflies. I am looking for scenes of wildflower meadows and drifts–milkweed, asters, and goldenrod, for example. If you have a favorite place and know of such a scene on Cape Ann (accessible to the public) or are willing to allow me to come film and photograph on your property, please let me know. There is no extensive equipment involved, just me and my camera and tripod. Please feel free to email me directly at Thank you.

Eastern Point Gloucester Seaside Goldenrod

New Bistro Lights at Willowdale Estate

Willowdale Estate Courtyard

Monday night I was filming at Willowdale as we are in the early stages of creating a web page about the butterfly gardens for the Willowdale Estate website. I was hoping to film the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at dusk and did succeed! They were nectaring from the Rose Mallow, hosta, Snowberry Bush, and butterfly bushes.

Verbena bonariensis

I love the new bistro lights in the courtyard garden–so romantic!