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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Chameleon effect

Mimicking others behaviour, that is what is written in Wikipedia for ‘chameleon effect’. During one of my agile workshops we were discussing about different cultures, and one of the participants who represented young India, asked me this fully loaded question, ‘Aby, when I travel to another country, or when I have to deal with customers from foreign lands, my organisation teaches me their culture and language. As per my country’s culture, guest is God. No body is teaching them this. Is it because we do not take pride in our own culture?’. ‘Aby, you do not speak neither British English nor American English’, that was a feedback for me after another scrum workshop. How can I speak British or American English. My parents are from India. I have never travelled to these countries yet, forget about living there for longer time. I feel at home, at home. How can a person like this speak English like them. In India, every state has a separate language. I am yet to see any of my foreign friends speaking even one sentence of Hindi fluently. Very often we waste our lives by trying to be somebody else. Recently my nephew who spent more than a decade in a foreign land told me that the citizens of that country respects him more when he lives like an Indian, following the Indian values and culture. If one keeps changing colours frequently trying to impress others, what will be the plight of that person after a while?. You are unique. Be proud of it. Understand other’s culture for the purpose of not offending anybody knowingly, but not to become like them. Even if you try, you will fail miserably. Self respect is a prelude to mutual respect. My friend Krishnakumar is on an American tour, and hopefully he will come back as Krishnakumar, not as Krish 🙂

Here is the chameleon I photographed today evening, with my lumix fz200. Access to a camera always help. We do not know when an opportunity will strike. Be ready always, that is the mantra. Hope you will like this one 🙂

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Do the preparation well. Do not take chances with the environmental factors.

If you are visiting this part of the world now (Kerala, India), understanding of the following facts will make your trip more effective, and in some cases lack of knowledge of these can land you in trouble as well.

This is the time when Kerala is gearing up for the onam festival, which is the rice harvest festival of Kerala, and there is a long history behind it.
Onakkalam is a typical flower arrangement done at every household during the onam
Onakkali, is a special dance form of onam time
This is the time of the snake boat races (in my list of items to be photographed)
This is the time when monsoon rains have just receded, hence roads are in bad shape. So you will need an appropriate vehicle for travel and this will have an impact on travel time.
In Kerala, smoking is prohibited in public places.
Till September it is off season for tourism, hence you can negotiate better with the tour operators
Do not forget to carry your medicines
A mosquito repellent will help
A torch will be handy because of frequent power interrupts
If there is a strike by any political party during your visit, there will not be any public transport available for you. So plan for it.
It is better to drink bottled water, or boiled water.
Kerala has a well connected public transport system, and if you are a budget traveller, make use of it
Select the appropriate camera and lenses. This is the time for wild life, flowers, landscapes, rivers, waterfalls, birds..Not for sun sets.
Some places, photography is prohibited.
Before photographing people, ask for their permission.
Hill stations can be quite cold during this season.

A person who have not understood these, may not be able to make the best use of the opportunity. This is very true, whenever we embark on any new project. An understanding of the environment factors that will impact your project either positively or negatively is very important. Believe me, this is not a good time to start a new project in Egypt or Syria.

Here are the monsoon clouds for you. Canon 550d, tokina wide angle

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Violating the rules

Should we follow every good practices always. The answer is no. Sometimes we even violate them for better results. Sometimes following a best practice can land one in trouble. Once while traveling from Delhi airport to Noida by car at 2.30 a.m, the roads were almost empty, and the taxi driver was bypassing all the red traffic signal lights on the way. In a place like that, stopping at a signal waiting for the green light can invite the risk of getting run over by a bigger vehicle. In many occasions, following the law of the land is safer than following the ideal. In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states of India, overtaking through the left side of a heavy vehicle is much easier and safer, even though it is against the written traffic rules. Here is a street photograph I captured at Mumbai where the red light is on, but no vehicle was stopping and if one try to follow the traffic rule here, he will be run over by some other vehicle. In any case, knowing the rules both written and unwritten will help, so that one can either follow or violate them intelligently.

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Here is a photograph which gave me better results by violating the basic rules about lighting..

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Photography projects, programs and hobbyists

This could be the turning point from amateur photography to professional photography. These days, I capture at least one photograph every day, and that keeps on happening without any start and end dates. It is repetitive in nature. I like to photograph, so I click every day. It is more like an operation. Operations are ongoing in nature, have no start and end dates, produces standard outputs. The moment I call something as a photography project, then it must have a start date and end date, will produce unique outputs, are progressively elaborated and are constrained by the constraints of time, cost and scope. Wedding photography is a clean example for projects :-). What could be a photography program?. I want to travel to all the states of India and publish photographs at my blog http://www.stillsofindia.com. The scope is so huge. I am thinking of breaking it into smaller projects (state wise), all contributing to the program stillsofindia

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