Delivering that extra punch….

Very often as a photographer, I have faced situations which are adverse to photography. Literally there was nothing to shoot, and at the same time, the inner voice says that there is some. That is the time when I experiment with my camera, composition and settings. There is no pre-determined formula to arrive at a good shot. It is all about experimentation. The first experimentation is about looking at the subject from different angles. Adhering to rule of thirds, some times violating it deliberately. Some times blurring the background, and some other times, blurring the foreground, playing with the aperture. If I have a tripod, then I experiment with shutter speed as well. Sometimes I change the lens, filter and even the camera..to add some life to the otherwise dull subject.

In project management, especially software development projects, requirements changes are hated by the programmers, and unfortunately, any product owner who dares to experiment with the product, like a photographer, in order to make it better will end up in changing requirements. It is a good sign. The product owner or the photographer is really committed to an extraordinary outcome, hence this experimentation. Some time back, after going to a location, the first thing I used to do was to mount the tripod at some point, then trying to photograph from that angle, thus limiting myself to a narrow vision. The tripod can be mounted after experimenting from multiple angles. Likewise, the product requirements can be frozen after experimenting with the requirements for a while. That’s when agility plays a major role. Agile project management is aimed at experimentation, and if we approach it with predetermined tunnelled visions, then it is the death of agility.

Here are some photos clicked at Bangalore from a taxi car which took me from the airport to my apartment. I had enough time experimentation, and as per me, I got some interesting output as an outcome.

The first one is by blurring the foreground and focusing on the background..the second one is through the side window, the third one is by blurring it all and the fourth one is by blurring the background.

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Delivering that extra…That talks about agility…….

What is the colour of the chameleon?

One of my earlier posts was about the concern ‘what will happen to you, if you keep changing to adjust with the environment?’. Some of the readers disagreed with me, and responded by portraying the ability to mesh well with the environment as a great quality, to be successful in the global project teams of today. Yesterday I clicked this chameleon, and his colour is same is as the tree trunk, which made me think of the original colour of the chameleon?. What is the original colour of the chameleon?.

Being a manager in the outsourcing capital of the world, not only the scope of the project is defined by the customer, but how to do it is also dictated by the customer very often. If the customer is from U.K, he may ask for PRINCE2. If they are from else where, they may ask for PMP. Request for agile (scrum) can come from any where, if the client believes in results than reports. Can the manager from the supplier’s side be successful, without understanding all these frameworks?. The answer is ‘No’. One good thing is, when we go in depth, we realise that the foundations of every project management framework is the same, and revolves around plan, do, check and act or plan, do, study and act. How fast we do it, and how we approach fast failures determines the framework.

Ability to change colours, without loosing one’s true colours is truly a strength.

Here is a photograph captured with my lumix fz200.

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Tree worship

Yesterday we were ahead of schedule for a customer meeting, which gave us some time to explore the neighbourhood. With the good intention of saving the Indian rupees from crashing further, we decided not to drink a coke, instead opted for a tender coconut, from the heap of coconuts piled under this tree decorated with strings and flowers. A form of tree worship. What a noble way of respecting the environment. A search for tree worship gave me this wikipedia link. Tree worship is not something local to India, it is something performed globally from time immemorial. Our forefathers were very much sensitive of the environment, what about us?. Recently, there was a local press report about census of mangroves in and around kochi, to be completed in three years time by a government agency, and today I saw hundreds of them cut down, fearing some sort of restrictions on their habitats. What a smart nexus between the government agencies and the land mafia, by granting three years time to clear of mangroves from the potential real estate locations, thus, not falling into the protected land/species category. I am not strong enough to fight it. I can write about it. I can grow some trees. I can become more sensitive to the environment, and do something positive about it.

Here is the decorated tree. Canon 550D, 50mm, 1.2f

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Not to click decisions

There was a time when I clicked at everything that came my way with the exuberance of a boy with a new toy at hand. After a while and four 16 gb cards, I became very choosy about which images to release and which ones to delete. Then it became which ones to click and which ones not to click. A move from garbage collection before release to garbage collection at source, resulting in tremendous amount of savings of effort. What is the key trigger for this movement?. I will attribute it to mastery over photography. Capturing an image perfectly became a no brainer over a period of time, and that challenge was replaced by the ability to spot an opportunity to capture a great image. Today even though I had the camera with me, I did not click at anything because nothing impressive came my way. And I feel good about it. I see it as signs of maturity. Once you have a reputation to loose, then the not to click decisions are very important, else you will create gigabytes of mediocre stuff.

The project management wisdom says that projects fail at the beginning, not at the end. This is very true. Either we say yes to the projects where we do not have the skill sets, or we start projects which do not have a solid business case…the reasons could be many, and the fate of the project is always decided very early. Same is the case with a photograph as well. So the not to click decisions are as important as your click decisions, because you have a reputation to loose.

Here is a photograph which I clicked with full conviction…using my canon 550d

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Earthen pots + fire woods = Fish curry ++

Delicious fish curry is cooked in earthen pots, using fire wood. It is simple and there is nothing to replace it yet, when the only criteria is the taste of the curry. Similarly, is there any replacement for the good old yellow stickies and the white board. I do not think so. In a distributed development scenario, a tool usage may be inevitable, but do not replace the good old tracking board with automated stuff. Capture the data from the tracking board, and enter it to the collaboration tool, for the usage of all other stakeholders. Simplicity of the conventional modes can make your product average or exemplary. Some tools will kill your product. Recently I saw some tools where the definition of done is ‘ready for testing’. Bull shit of the first order. Nobody knows when this product is going to get released :-). I have had the experience of another team, who kept their tracking board within a meeting room and physically locked the room, to be opened prior to the next day’s scrum :-). Transparency under lock and key :-). The key aspect in maintaining true agility is keeping things simple and not stupid.

Here is a fish curry in the making. Canon 550D, 50 MM, 1.2f

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Casual to ‘no compromise’

A casual approach to work will never result in exemplary outcomes. This is very true in photography. Like the Mobile phone or internet addictions, I have reached a stage where if I do not have access to a camera, then I get restless. Is it because I missed out some great opportunities to click, because I did not have a camera with me?, no, never, I am unable to recollect even one incident to justify it. It is just an anxiety of missing out some potentially great opportunity, which may or may not arise. My experience shows that unless one puts in one hundred percentage into a photograph, it is going to be mediocre. A casual approach to serious photography will not work. Here was a great opportunity, which gave me mediocre results because of my casual approach to photography.

We were driving on the suburban roads of kochi city to avoid the peak hour traffic jams on the main road. We drove into this beautiful view of the sunset behind a fertiliser factory polluting the whole area. In the fore ground there were vehicles plying, so it was a great opportunity for a slow shutter speed photograph, with red and white streams of light in the foreground, followed by the factory and it’s chimneys, and the red sunset in the background. At that moment, I did not want to mount the camera on the tripod, and ended up with a hand held shot, resulting in this mediocre outcome. I will be going there again, to get that perfect shot. One great lesson for me is, if you have to cross the boarder between amateurism and professionalism, then one has to get out of the casual approach to a no compromise approach, else, the end product will be inferior. This fact is applicable to all spheres of professional work.

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