By Joann M. Ringelstetter
In the summer of 2013, a fellow photographer mentioned that he was hoping to find the time to photograph the sunflowers at Pope Farm Conservancy, a 105-acre park to the west of Madison, Wisconsin.
I hadn’t had the opportunity to photograph sunflowers since 2008 when Ruth and I stumbled on a field of sunflowers in Columbia County, Wisconsin. This sounded like a great opportunity, especially since Pope Farm Conservancy isn’t that far from where I live.
So I checked the sunflower update on the Pope Farm website and it said that the sunflowers were in their prime. Then I checked the weather report and the weather looked good for the following morning. Of course, it was a weekday and I had to work, but I figured there would be plenty of time if I arrived at the park at first light.
The next morning, I got up very early, put on a pair of blue jeans, put my work clothes in the car, and headed over to Pope Farm Conservancy. It was still dark when I arrived, but by the time I hiked up the trail past the old rock wall, it was starting to get light enough to photograph the sunflowers.
The light was beautiful, which is usually the case during the 20 minutes or so before sunrise. I worked quickly, not only because of the short window of glorious light, but also because I wanted to get to work on time. Other than a couple of people out for an early morning run, I was alone with the sunflowers.
After taking many photos of the vast field of brilliant yellow sunflowers, I decided to get up close and personal.
Then I noticed that the bees were early risers too, and they were already hard at work, visiting many of the sunflowers.
By this time, the sun was well above the horizon and it was time for me to leave for work. So I packed up my camera equipment and walked back up the hill to get to the other side of the rock wall. As I walked back to the car, I shot a few more photos from the other side of the wall.
This year, I had planned to return to Pope Farm to once again photograph the sunflowers. However, the prime time for photographing them came and went quickly and I didn’t make it over there. And this year, word of these beautiful sunflowers was in the news and all over social media, and I heard it was jam-packed with cars and people every day.
Since I hadn’t found the time in the past two years to process the photos I took in the summer of 2013, I decided it was time to share these with you. And I will leave it on my To Do List to revisit Pope Farm Conservancy in the coming years to enjoy the beautiful gift of the sunflowers.