Photo of the Month – Triptychs and Lightroom

Hi Folks:

It’s Hallowe’en, but I don’t have any really good pumpkin images to share this month…  In going through my images for this past month I was drawn to an image I made of an old bicycle down in the Rockland area of Victoria, in part because it reminded me of an other bike I’d shot in Oak Bay back in August and one I’d shot in Kelowna a couple of years ago.  Rather than profiling this one as a single image I decided to combine the three bikes together into one ‘triptych’ image.  Basically a diptych or triptych is a process of combining two or three images into one image collage.  The images can be complementary or in stark contrast, they can highlight a theme or one subject.  One can even make a triptych from only one image, but I’ll get to that in a bit.  There are several good tutorials on how to make diptychs/ triptychs in Lightroom 3; I’d suggest beginning with two videos on this from Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost. You can see them here: Part 1 / Part 2.  The first video mostly covers how to choose images for your diptych/ triptych, and the second video offers some useful tips and ideas on how to use Lightroom’s tools to prepare the images you’re going to be using for your diptych/triptych to make them more consistent.  For making the triptych in Lightroom 3, one of the best tutorials I’ve found is by Helen Bradley over on the Digital Photography School site.

So, for my image I combined the three bikes together in a way that I thought offered the best balance:

Bicycle Triptych

For what it’s worth, the image on the left is from Rockland and the image on the right is from Kelowna

As I mentioned at the top, you can also create triptychs from one image but it’s a little more complicated.  I first learned about this technique from a tutorial put together by Sean McCormack over at Lightroom-News.  I will add one update to his tutorial, however, as the Print module in Lightroom 3 works a bit differently.  Rather than using the ‘Print Package’ as in Lightroom 2, one uses the ‘Contact Sheet/ Grid’ layout in Lightroom 3.  Other than that, everything works pretty much the same.

Here’s an example of a triptych made from one image:

Nebraska mountain

Now go out and make some pictures!


P.S. In looking at the image of the bicycles above you may have noticed that the two side images overlap the one in the middle, and there are one portrait and two landscape images.  If you try to do that using the ‘Contact Sheet/ Grid’ layout you’ll discover that it doesn’t work.  ‘Picture Package’ will allow you to overlap images on the page, but it has to be one image, not three, as it will put three selected images on three separate pages.  No, to create a triptych like that one you need to use ‘Custom Package’.  Not quite as simple, but there’s a lot more creative control.

I thought I’d add in a couple of tips on using ‘Custom Package’:

  • I recommend turning on the Guidelines. Also, you may find that ‘Grid Snap: Grid’ or ‘Grid Snap: Cells’ will help with your alignment.
  • Once you’ve created a cell on the page (either by selecting a cell size from the right panel or by dragging an image from the filmstrip onto the page), you can duplicate the cell by holding down the Alt/Opt key and clicking and dragging out a new cell.  Once you’ve create the new cell, you can drag and drop an image from the filmstrip onto that cell.
  • By clicking and dragging on one of the control points on a cell you can change the size/shape of the cell.  If you want to maintain the aspect ratio of the cell, hold down the Shift key while resizing the cell.  NB: On the right panel under Cells is a box for ‘Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio’.  If this boxed is checked you will be able to scale the cell size but you won’t be able to change its aspect ratio from that of the original image.
  • In Custom Package, clicking and dragging on a cell moves the cell, not the image within the cell.  If you want to move the image within the cell, hold down the Ctrl/Cmd key while dragging.  If you end up moving a cell accidentally, remember that Ctrl/Cmd-Z will back you up one step.

Finally, always remember rule #5.

P.S. You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

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