Photo by Michael C. Roberts

During a recent visit to Northern Arizona, Anthem resident Michael C. Roberts discovered a desiccated tree against the Grand Canyon vista that he believes captures forms of beauty emerging from the extremes of heat, cold, rain, snow, harsh sun and strong winds.

“The canyon in its grandeur contrasts with the desiccated tree still standing in its gnarly beauty,” says Roberts, a retired professor from the University of Kansas who enjoys hiking in the desert with his dog, Buddy, and his grandchildren. “I value this photograph as a striking impression of beauty and time.

“The sun was bright as I walked the path along the North Rim, but I became aware of the scraggly tree out of the corner of my squinted eyes. The tree seemed to follow me because it was so stark against the bright sky, so I turned back to take the photograph. I only got one shot because two young children ran up and eagerly climbed onto the branches. The image quickly became a spooky tree, eating kids in a haunted forest.

“I warned their parents that the tree probably could not withstand their exuberant bouncing, and the drop-off into the canyon below was steep. I did not get another picture because I was worried — not of the tree eating the children, but more of their impending fall to their doom. While some photographers might lament a photograph not taken, in this case, I do not. I will probably always be a protective bystander before a photographer.”

Earlier this year, Roberts authored and published “Imaging the World with Plastic Cameras: Diana and Holga” — a book, available on Amazon, of essays and photographs taken by analog cameras with film, a cheap plastic lens and a spring mechanism.

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