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Blog 3 November 2010

Triptych  Photography

This blog looks at the technique of splitting a photograph into three equal parts and viewing the final result as a "triptych". If you have a camera that has a high number of megapixels (mp), such as the Sony A900 24.6mp full frame camera, and you split an image into three equal-sized parts, then you can still obtain quite large prints from each of the three separate images. The image below of an upper "secondary rainbow" was taken with the Sony A900, and it has an image width of 6048 pixels.

Spectacular "double" rainbow over Pauatahanui Inlet as seen from Motukaraka Point, near Plimmerton, Wellington, New Zealand. This image was taken with the 24.6 megapixel Sony Alpha A900 camera, using the Carl Zeiss F/2.8 24-70mm lens.

When the above image is split into three equal-sized parts, it can be viewed as a "triptych", as follows:

Because each of the three A900 images above is 2016 pixels wide, this means that, if printed at 150 pixels per inch, each print would be 13.44 inches wide. Therefore, if the full A900 image width of 6048 pixels is printed at 150 pixels per inch, the print will be 40.32 inches wide.

Some of the printers used by photographers have a maximum print width of say, 19 inches. Therefore, by making three equal-sized prints, the photographer can produce a triptych which has the equivalent print width of a single print that is about, say, 40 inches wide, without the need to use a much larger printer.

If the three images are mounted on photo blocks that are thick enough to stand on their own, the two outer blocks can be turned inwards slightly to give a semi-circular impression of the image that appears to provide more depth.

Of course, you can, if you prefer, split the image into two panels and make a diptych rather than a triptych!

Click  here  to see further discussion about the image above.

The triptych has been around for a long time as an accepted work of art, as discussed here:

The above article says that the "triptych form arises from early Christian art, and was a popular standard format for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onwards".

A triptych can take the form of one picture split into three parts, as shown above, or it can be three separate compatible pictures displayed together, as shown in this article about the triptychs of Francis Bacon:

To obtain the best appreciation of the quality of the images on this site, they should be displayed at a relatively small size, because most images have been reduced in size to a maximum width of only 870 pixels, from the original width of at least 4900 pixels (or 6000 pixels from my full frame cameras). In addition, the images have been saved at a low quality setting.

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