Jul 15, 2021

Constraints in projects and pics

Working within constraints means you have to find a way to produce the best possible outcome, but that also means you have to make sacrifices in one or more areas. There's no such thing as a perfect project, but I didn't understand why until I picked up photography.

On projects we work within constraints, including time, budget, and scope. If you want to adjust one constraint, you impact another. Increasing scope may increase time to deliver or the needed budget. Decreasing budget might mean less time or the need to cut scope. Pushing for an earlier launch day may require the budget to add resources or again, a drastic cut in scope. In the end, it's unlikely you'll deliver a project in just the right amount of time, with everything the stakeholders want, within a budget they're happy to pay for. You need to make concessions in one of those areas, and arrive at a happy ending that balances all three for the best possible outcome.

Photography puts you in a similar position. You're working with focal length, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These three constraints, like the project constraints, are codependent. If your photo is blurry due to motion, you want to increase shutter speed to freeze the subject. But now the lens is taking in less light, making your photos darker! Your aperture is wide open letting in the most possible light, so your only option is to raise the ISO to digitally amplify the light, but dang! Now the photo is full of grainy little dots we call "noise". You may need to drop that shutter speed back down a bit, or consider reducing the focal length to let in even more natural light, sacrificing some zoom. There's no such thing as a perfect photo, like tack sharp birds flying at sunset with zero noise and flawless exposure. Instead you're seeking balance between these constraints to produce the clearest image possible given your subject, equipment, and lighting conditions.

There's no way of knowing what the "best balance" may be. There may be multiple combinations that yield similar results, but in every case, you'll need to tweak your moveable constraints and make concessions in order to produce the best possible results.


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