Flying over the state of Kerala in southern India, the visitor is struck by what seems to be an endless panoply of palm fronds blanketing the land. This dense spread of the coconut tree has come to represent Kerala’s topographic signature. It serves as our motif in the sequence of photographs below. Here in the groves, the implements and the rhythm of everyday Keralan life are disclosed. The monsoon rains lend to the scene their deep water-soaked colours.

Backwaters at Alappuzha, Kerala<br>5D, EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS

Backwaters at Alappuzha, Kerala
5D, EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS

 
Vishnu Temple in Achan Thuruthu, Kerala<br>5D, EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS

Vishnu temple in Achan Thuruthu, Kerala
5D, EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS

 
Life in the Valiyaparamba backwaters, Kerala<br>5D, EF 24-105L

Life in the Valiyaparamba backwaters, Kerala
5D, EF 24-105L

 
 
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  • mariya john - May 21, 2013 - 7:54 am

    Nice photography. Kerala is a God’s own country .ReplyCancel

  • Sarika - September 28, 2012 - 2:19 am

    Loved the last picture with people in the boat!ReplyCancel

  • Shubha - June 27, 2009 - 11:37 am

    Superb, Rajan! And the green in those photographs makes me long for the rains which sadly, seem to be giving us in the North, the dodge this year.ReplyCancel

  • prashanth - June 25, 2009 - 8:34 pm

    Sanjeev, they are on terra-firma, you forgot they are backwater keralites!ReplyCancel

  • Thaths - June 25, 2009 - 3:21 pm

    Were you moving or stationary when you took these photos? If you were moving… they are very sharp for having been shot from a moving object.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - June 25, 2009 - 3:06 pm

    God’s own country, but missing airconditioning 🙂

    The photographs transport me back to Kerala….ReplyCancel

  • jose - June 25, 2009 - 9:33 am

    Thank You Rajan. The pictures are truly beautiful. I liked the picture of the temple in the midst of the palms. So peaceful.ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - June 25, 2009 - 9:28 am

    Love the picture with ALL the passengers in the boat staring at you ! I have never seen so many people standing in a boat. Must have some special stabiliser.ReplyCancel

In the realm of Portraiture, two lenses in the Canon line-up – EF 85mm f/1.2 L II and EF 135mm f/2 L – have attained occult status for their superlative optical performance and for the creative possibilities they open.

The 85L II lens was primarily conceived as a portrait lens. Not the fastest autofocus arrow in Canon’s quiver, it is best deployed in controlled, deliberate situations. With its widest aperture of f/1.2, it is a delicate tool requiring of care & skill.

The 135L lens revels in tight head shots and its fast autofocus lends it an extra edge. Stopped down, it is a splendid candidate for landscape work in the medium telephoto region.

A couple of portraits of my little niece Saraswati, taken in Panjim, Goa, are offered below.

The first image taken with 85L II underscores its signal feature: ability to cull the essentials from a composition – in this instance, the eyes – with its wafer thin depth of field at f/1.2.

The second is a quick, spontaneous capture with the 135L at an outdoors event. Here I had no choice but to make do with the angle & character of the available light at that moment. Perhaps the soft shadows in this instance enhance the profile. You decide.

 
Close-up of Saraswati<br>5D, 85L II

Close-up of Saraswati
5D, 85L II @ f/1.2

 
Portrait of Saraswati<br>5D, 135L

Portrait of Saraswati
5D, 135L @ f/2

 
 
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  • Arun - June 21, 2009 - 5:26 am

    Keep Saraswati smiling!

    In the second, I suppose the shadow on the nose would concern a purist. To me, it makes the picture real.ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - June 21, 2009 - 2:08 am

    Nice ones ! though I find the old lady’s picture spectacular. Wasn’t there one of a film industry veteran who you met up in Salcete ?ReplyCancel

Badami in the the state of Karnataka, India, is known for its  ancient rock-cut temples. The sandstone ridge, overlooking the town, is set afire every day moments before sundown.  In the image below, the Bhootnath temple is also seen on the banks of the lake.

Sandstone Ridge at Badami<br>5D, 24-105L

Sandstone ridge at Badami
5D, 24-105L

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  • david mcmahon - June 22, 2009 - 4:53 pm

    Great depiction, marvellous colours. A friend of mine in Portugal just sent me the url for your photos and your blog. Some very interesting work here.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - June 21, 2009 - 7:04 am

    The colors are great! The scale is really made apparent by the temple. The tree on the right must be enormous.ReplyCancel

Early morning drives through rural Goa are among life’s great pleasures.  Goan villages have a unique physical and aesthetic appeal.  The template is more or less the same:  life is anchored around the local temple or the church, a key village institution for matters spiritual as well as social.  Then there is the village ‘tinto’ – a hive of activity dotted with a tavern, cafe, barber shop, store, and local gossips.  This languid, bucolic world is now fast fading in the face of ‘development’ and out-of-control influx invasion from the rest of India.

At the end of a crepuscular photo excursion earlier this year, I stopped by the old temple of Ravalnath in the village of Mulgaon (Moolgaon). A lone figure in the courtyard greeted me, an elderly widow named Jayashree Gaonkar, as it turned out. When I inquired after her, she replied that hers’ had been a hard life but that she is now glad to have the opportunity to “sweep the courtyard for my God every morning.” We had a good conversation. When I asked if I could take some portraits, she was overcome by shyness. After some cajoling she acceded.

Jayashree Gaonkar at Ravalnath temple in Moolgaon

Jayashree Gaonkar of Mulgaon, Goa
5D, 85L II

 
Jayashree Gaonkar in the courtyard of the temple 5D, 24-105L

Jayashree Gaonkar in the courtyard of the temple
5D, 24-105L

 
Ancient idol of Ravalnath at Mulgaon<br>5D, 85L II

Ancient idol of Ravalnath at Mulgaon
5D, 85L II

 
 
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  • Ketan - June 18, 2012 - 5:02 am

    Great pictures , Do you have photograph of Devi Mahalaxmi who’s temple is adjoining to Shree Rawalnath Moolgaon pls?ReplyCancel

  • Dev Sharma - May 16, 2012 - 3:51 am

    Great pics Rajan and wonderful description to go with it,Goan villages are indeed so beautiful and enchanting and your pics do full justice.ReplyCancel

  • Xanno Moidecar - November 15, 2009 - 3:52 pm

    Dear Rajan

    Strangely stirring. An almost superstitious feeling of awe. If this is indeed the murti worshipped by my forefathers that I am priveleged to have seen it, thanks to your lens. Unbelieveable.

    Xanno MoidecarReplyCancel

  • walter - November 9, 2009 - 7:33 am

    I know this lady personnaly. I meet her when ever I go vacation not only this there was one more lady of same age who was sweeping for her god. her name called PERU BAI(PERTHE) she already passed away now.I would like to apreciate the photography that u have done thanks for that u rembered my village days with her.ReplyCancel

  • Swapnil Pathare - June 18, 2009 - 2:36 am

    Great descriptions and photos.ReplyCancel

  • Tony Fernandes - June 16, 2009 - 12:04 pm

    Excellent photography. Fitting description of Goan life at dawn.
    Jayashree : A portrait of simplicity and humility. It touched me.ReplyCancel

  • Silvan D'Sa - June 16, 2009 - 4:52 am

    Excellent high-resolution portrait photo of Jayashree. Every minute detail is visible in vibrant colours. Keep it up Rajan, you are doing a wonderful job for all of us Goanetters!ReplyCancel

  • Ignatius Fernandes - June 16, 2009 - 4:06 am

    What a lovely picture could be my grandmother
    Does the Goa Govt.helps her out in anyway?
    Look at Goa football team each gets 1lakh
    for winning Santosh trophy.ReplyCancel

  • Ereen Colaco - June 16, 2009 - 12:44 am

    Lovely pics. jayshree looks great !!ReplyCancel

  • Roland Francis - June 15, 2009 - 3:58 pm

    Salt of the Goan earth. Neither the Portuguese nor the Indians bettered her life.ReplyCancel

  • Shrikant Barve - June 14, 2009 - 11:07 pm

    Rajan, Good presentation of goan senior citizen.ReplyCancel

Meandering through the Goan countryside moments before sunset one evening in February 2009, I came upon this enchanting scene in the village of Azossim, Goa.

Late evening in Azossim, Goa (EF Lens: 24-105L)

Late evening in Azossim, Goa
5D, EF 24-105L

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  • Chinmay - June 12, 2009 - 10:50 am

    Nice picture Rajan-bab. I wonder when some local politico will decide to bring about “development” hereReplyCancel

  • Augusto Pinto - June 12, 2009 - 5:43 am

    Very nostalgic.

    Except for the fact that those kids are wearing modern colours of football teams like Brazil and Man. United, I could be one of those boys on the ground 36 years ago.ReplyCancel