A Wildflower Time Lapse

When Jim Burnham was named to the first cohort of ArtPop Peoria artists in 2015, it was a serendipitous honor. Not only was the photographer’s landscape image displayed high on a billboard, it guided him toward new friends—and new projects.

A year later, Burnham met Linda Webb, whose macro photograph of a clay monarch butterfly pendant won the 2016 ArtPop Peoria People’s Choice Award. Webb was commissioned to paint a similar, if much larger piece for Mitch and Charli Gregory’s barn in rural Washington, Illinois, and she invited him to photograph the process. Burnham created a time-lapse video of Webb’s endeavor, and would soon embark on an even more interesting journey.

Passionate about pollinators, the Gregorys had established an enormous wildflower garden on their property—a sea of goldenrod, coneflower, milkweed and other native plants amidst fields of corn and soybeans. Burnham’s concept? “To create a time lapse that would span the entire growing season of the garden—from dry, empty ground… to full green and blooming, back to dead.”

After setting up a GoPro camera, he made regular trips to the wildflower garden for nearly a year —checking the system, replacing memory cards, and dealing with a series of weather-related issues and technical problems. “One day I found a rabbit had built a nest in the battery box and chewed through the wires,” Burnham notes. “Another time, the GoPro just died completely and I lost two weeks of footage.”

In spite of these challenges, the resulting time lapse successfully compressed nine months of plant growth and weather changes into five minutes. It’s a stunning sight to see—“especially around the end of July when the large swaths of yellow coneflowers burst open, in August when the goldenrod blooms, and in September when the monarchs layover en route to South America,” Burnham notes. “And if you look closely, you’ll see some ofthe Orionid meteor shower in the October ‘night time lapse.’

“What I hope people get out of the video is a sense of peace,” he adds, “and a better appreciation for pollinators and the delicate dance they do with the wildflowers and the weather.” Watch the video and learn more about Burnham’s process at lelandreport.com/portfolio/wildflower-garden-mega-time-lapse. a&s