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 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.





Delivering that extra…That talks about agility…….


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


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


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.


Blame it on poor judgment

Today was the much awaited brahmachari oath day of my friend’s son Suryanarayana. So far I never attended a similar event in the past. Even though I was down with fever, I mustered enough energy to pack my canon 550d, tokina wide angle to take a couple of shots of the traditionally rich environments. I took my lumix fz200 to capitalize it’s low light capabilities expecting vivid plays of shades as the Hindu ceremonies are rich with fire and smoke. When I reached the venue it was a modern building and stage was brightly lit, denying every opportunity for shadow effect. The canon was handling the situation better and unfortunately I had only the wide angle lens with very little zooming capabilities. A reality check would have helped. Atleast I should have carried the canon zoom lens also with me. Will this fall under risk response planning and contingency planning?. However it is a missed opportunity. I will never make the same mistake again. Here is a reasonably good photograph from the ceremony.


Put the seat belts on, and switch off all electronic gadgets

Whenever I hear announcements like above, it reminds me of the burn down charts. This is one tool which improved my ability to achieve milestones on time, without too much stress.
I adore burn down chart, one of the key tools from scrum, even while conducting a PMP certification program based on the good practices of conventional project management. Unlike the earned value cure, the burn down chart is more forward looking and easy to implement. It is helping me to complete the training on time every time. It is more like landing the flight within the safe zone of the runway. I like them best, when drawn on a white board, where every one can see it, all the time. In another words, it creates pressure, which the teams term as ‘positive pressure or pressure with pleasure’. Even though a tool usage is inevitable in distributed development, it should not be at the cost of the physical burn down chart. Someone must transfer the data from the white board to the tool on a daily basis. Start using the burn down charts to track your work, and it will help you to eliminate spikes of stress around milestone dates. It will make your landing safer and consistent.