Anticipation vs. Chance

Unlike digital photography, that can be staged and re-done thanks to its immediacy by exploiting the possibilities of the medium itself, film photography or experimental photography appear to be more limited in the fabrication of the image. 

Palermo, Buenos Aires
Bratislava, Slovakia

The images above are taken on film and on paper, two different supports that share the same limitation: the final result cannot be seen until the image is visible. 

The former, being a black and white film taken on a rather sunny afternoon in the bohemian district of Palermo, Buenos Aires. 

The latter, being an image taken during 40 seconds on a cast day in solitary old town in Bratislava, Slovakia. 


As per the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is regarded as “a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action”.

Anticipation can be appreciated in the former image, where I stood in front of what seemed to be a charming depiction of a dehor cafĂ© on a leafy street in which young people could sit down on unconventional seats, chaining their bikes around the trees and bringing their dogs, contributing to a vibrant yet relaxed scene.  Observation led me to await the exact moment in which two dogs staring at each other from afar, started to engage in what it is a typical dog play: the hunt, as captured on the photograph.  

To my later surprise, this brief, playful action did not seem to agitate the rest of the spectators in the least. Dog owners may be accustomed to such occurrences and may as well maintain their original posture and facial expression.

The action that developed before the eye of the camera was surprising and hadn’t I reacted quickly enough, it would have been lost in the successive moment. 


As per the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is regarded as “something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause”.

Chance can be appreciated in the latter image and is intrinsically connected to the pinhole  technique, given that light and distance as the primal elements of this experimental approach are always variable and their measurement is often approximative.

In this case, another factor came into play: the unexpected arrival of rain. Rain, first in form of a light autumn shower, then increasingly dense and heavy, led me to peek and seek shelter into the shadowed alley, where nothing was happening, yet something incredibly transforming was happening: chance itself.  Chance rained down on the latent image, modifying its edges, structure and tones. 

A quick adjustment of the exposure times could have probably improved some features of the final result but then, the I’d be fallen short of the element of chance and meditative stillness   that characterize the invisible yet tangible medium in use. 

Read also about anticipation in street photography.