A natural wonder of gnarled limestone beds in a far-flung corner of Death Valley National Park, the Striped Butte rises 774 feet from the floor of Butte Valley which itself lies 4000 feet above sea level. Most visitors to the park will never see this stupendous hunk of rock. Its remoteness and the daunting routes that lead to it are a deterrent to mass invasion.

We set out from our base in Beatty at 3 am on a cold December morning hoping to make it into Butte Valley before daybreak. To be out in the wilds of Death Valley in pitch black conditions is an experience never forgotten. We had with us Death Valley Jim, the finest guide in the business, and his Sport Wrangler got us to our destination just in time for a spectacular desert dawn.

For an introduction to the area, see this excellent report by Steve Hall.

Obiter dicta: In 1996 a German family went missing near Anvil Springs Canyon, not far from here. Their remains were found 13 years later through the determined efforts of a citizen investigator. Read the fascinating account here. The story underscores the dangers this terrain represents especially in the summer months. For a less grim interlude, check this out.

Striped Butte, Death Valley National Parks

5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

Striped Butte, Death Valley National Park

Striped Butte, Death Valley National Park
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

Striped Butte, Death Valley National Park

Watercolours (digital)

Death Valley Jim at Striped Butte

Death Valley Jim
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

  • Kee Woo Rhee - June 29, 2014 - 6:42 pm

    Great photos and watercolor, Rajan!
    Thanks for the story of the missing Germans as well.
    You are very adventurous! I like that.ReplyCancel

  • sajo - June 28, 2014 - 5:07 pm

    I like all, but watercolors is special!ReplyCancel

  • Jackson Frishman - June 28, 2014 - 2:16 pm

    That first one is especially beautiful, Rajan! (Not that the second one isn’t.) I might have to look into your guide one of these days.ReplyCancel

  • Borkur Hrolfsson - June 28, 2014 - 11:44 am

    You´ve taken up painting now ?
    Nice photos, I need to get there.ReplyCancel

Historic church in a magical setting.

The Church of Mãe de Deus (Mother of God) in Pomburpa is among the oldest in Goa. Founded in 1590, it hews to the Mannerist Neo-Roman style.

The church is seen here from the island of Chorão; they are separated by a tributary of the Mandovi river (although you wouldn’t know it from this vantage point). The monsoon is an especially enchanting time in the area rewarding aficionados with an extended masterclass of green. I have worked this location for the past 8 years and the many exertions excursions have resulted in a respectable library of photos.

In the first composition a momentary hole in the clouds admits a spot of sunlight on the church. The third image furnishes an example of the depth of field attained to by a Tilt-Shift lens (via the Tilt movement).

Mãe de Deus church of Pomburpa, Goa

Mãe de Deus Church in Pomburpa, Goa, @ 400mm
5D Mark III, 100-400L IS

Mãe de Deus Church of Pomburpa, Goa

Monsoon green, @ 200mm
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

Pomburpa church. Goa

Tilt-Shift lens, @ 90mm
5D Mark III, TS-E 90 f/2.8

Pomburpa church, Goa

Thick monsoon air, @ 80mm
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

Pomburpa church, Goa

Mãe de Deus Church seen from Chorão, @ 50mm
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

  • Alhad Sardesai - July 9, 2014 - 12:53 am


    Wonderful post!!
    Chorao is my mother’s native village.
    The pictures brought back memories of my visit in May for the harvest of Mancurad mangoes
    Magical place…thanks again

    Alhad SardesaiReplyCancel

  • Mehernosh Shroff - July 1, 2014 - 11:04 pm

    Thank you the pictures are beautiful , amazingReplyCancel

  • Ramona Parsani - June 30, 2014 - 9:43 pm

    Wonderful photos…thank you for bringing a bit of Goa to me.ReplyCancel

  • MARGARIDA TAVORA E COSTA - June 30, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Dear Rajan,

    Gosh what awesome beauties your photographs of CHORAO…so clean and green..that is what our monsoons do to our landscapes.
    Felt so emotional to think that all is not yet lost…no garbage menace and ugly constructions around…hope it remains so.

    All the very best in your endeavours. You do make Goa proud. Keep them coming….

    Warm regards,

  • Vivek - June 25, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Photo taken from my home place…been seating at this place since childhood.
    Thanks Rajan Sir for this wonderful distance photos..
    I also saw your other post some years back on Chorao…Thank a lot.
    God bless you always :) ReplyCancel

  • jc - June 25, 2014 - 6:05 am

    Dear Rajanbab,

    The green rice fields and the tree covered hills are such a delight to behold. I know that sometime soon, some dummy will dump concrete on it and build something really ugly.



Village shrine.

A serene Goan monsoon view across a paddy field in Quitala, a tiny ward of the village Salvador do Mundo.

Ganapati temple in Quitala, Goa

Ganesha shrine in Quitala, Goa @ 400mm
5D Mark III, 100-400L IS

Ganapati temple in Quitala, Bardez, Goa

@ 70mm
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

Ganesh shrine at Quitala, Bardez, Goa

@ 24mm
5D Mark III, TS-E 24L II


This final image was taken at the shrine on an August 2007 morning. Some may have questions about the swastika – please see this.

Morning prayers

Archana Mardolkar offers morning prayers
5D, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

  • Thaths - June 24, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    I miss the gorgeous colors of India.ReplyCancel

  • jc - June 24, 2014 - 3:48 am

    Thanks again, Rajanbab.

    Serenity par excellence !

    I hope it still exists as such.



  • arvind shah - June 23, 2014 - 7:34 pm

    Sir you are a great photographer & musicologist. Thank YouReplyCancel

Music of the Sphere.

During the couple of weeks before and after the summer solstice – June 21 in the northern hemisphere – the sun barely dips below the horizon near the latitudes of the High North. If the weather gods are on your side, you get to enjoy a soft, lingering symphony of honeyed light – this quality of light you will never see in the lower latitudes – as the giant sphere takes its own sweet time touching down.

Last year I witnessed just such a celestial performance on a very still night in north Iceland. I located myself here, at the junction where the fjords Skagafjörður and Siglufjörður meet the Greenland Sea not far from the Arctic Circle. These are moments that inscribe themselves permanently in your memory.

Midnight sun near Skagafjörður and Siglufjörður, Iceland

Summer’s night 66º North
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

Midnight sun near Skagafjörður and Siglufjörður, Iceland

Midnight sun on the Greenland Sea
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

Pre-sunrise over mountain of Siglufjörður, Iceland

Mountains on fire
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

Rajan Parrikar near Skagafjörður and Siglufjörður, Iceland

5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

  • Premanand - June 23, 2014 - 2:48 pm

    Beautiful! “Mountains on fire” makes you eligible for a Nobel Peace prize, it brings peace to all those unfortunate souls who cannot or have yet not visited the splendor called “Iceland”. Bravo!ReplyCancel

  • Sajo - June 22, 2014 - 12:25 am

    Amazing pics.ReplyCancel

  • M Lobo - June 21, 2014 - 2:03 pm

    Picture number 1 is spectacular. My congrats.ReplyCancel


The Valagjá fissure in the south-central Highlands of Iceland is part of the Hekla volcanic system.

These photos were taken on two different occasions. Both the times I had to contend with gale-force winds which made holding the camera steady very challenging. This is an alien world, the strangeness accentuated by the splash of red amid the bleakness of the surroundings. In the first image, I was lucky to record a fleeting moment of a localized (spot)light event. Hekla‘s white dome is seen in the distance.

Valagjá, Highlands of Iceland

5D Mark III, TS-E 17L


Valagja panorama

(Click on image for larger view)
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

Börkur Hrólfsson at Valagjá

Bleak landscape: Börkur Hrólfsson at Valagjá
5D Mark II, TS-E 24L II

  • Thomas Pindelski - June 18, 2014 - 10:20 am

    Truly otheworldly.ReplyCancel

  • Premanand - June 16, 2014 - 6:37 pm

    Valagja looks like a painting. What is the black dust (looks like coal dust) and what is the localized (spot)light event?ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - June 18, 2014 - 10:54 am

      Volcanic ash. Spotlight event is when the sun highlights part of the image while the rest is shadowed.ReplyCancel

  • Borkur Hrolfsson - June 16, 2014 - 2:01 pm

    Great ! I like the first one, super sharp and colorful.ReplyCancel