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Creating a Triptych in Lightroom

During a photography class at Longwood Gardens we were given an exercise to create a triptych.  I made project Collections and a Print template in Lightroom which allowed me to relatively easily run through a number of photo combinations and layouts. This article shows what I eventually submitted to complete the assignment and how I exploited Lightroom’s feature set.

Note: For an abridged version of this tutorial simply click on an image; in the slideshow scroll up for the description.

Keep Everything Organized with Collections

First I created a Collection Set, Longwood Triptych, to hold the project parts.  Actually first I looked up how to spell triptych. The Whole Leaf collection contains the original RAW file and a layered TIF file with Photoshop adjustments. The leaves had some dirt and bruises that would be too cumbersome to fix up using the Spot Removal tool. So I did the patching and some other processing in Photoshop. This is not a required step for the process and what follows could be managed completely in Lightroom.

Next I made three Virtual Copies of the TIF image; giving each a Copy Name of Left, Center and Right respectively. These were moved into a new Collection named Slices. I wanted vertical slices that may or may not overlap. I cropped each virtual copy with a 2.39 x 1 aspect ratio. I use this preset aspect ratio for my horizontal panoramas; I might try it all again with an aspect ratio more common to vertical panoramas.

Assemble the Slices with a Layout Template

In the Print Module, I defined a Longwood Triptych template, not bothering with anything more than cells and margins. It served solely as a layout template for quick assessment of how the slices fit as a whole. I marked “Use: All Film Strip Photos”. The Lights Out view, L key shortcut, can be used when evaluating the image in the Print Module. If I liked the look, then I created a Saved Print collection (inside of Slices). When I do need to create a final print, I can use this as a starting point and setup and save a new template specifying paper, printer and profile.

Experiment by moving things around

I took advantage of the collection organization to slide the crop around for each of the vertical Slices and then go back to the Print Module for a quick assessment of the triptych. If I liked a layout, I would save it as a new Print Collection.

To complete the assignment we were required to deliver a JPEG. Using Print to a File, I created a JPEG in the same folder. So I would have a memento of the final product, I imported the JPEG into the Lightroom catalog and put it in the Delivered collection. Even if I were not delivering a JPEG, I would do this anyway to create a visual record in the catalog.

Some Final Thoughts

This post is written with hind sight and just shows my final submission for the assignment. I actually tried out many combinations, probably too many. Some alternative projects I played with used more than a single RAW file, but took advantage of the same presets and templates (plus a 3 square template) and a similar organization of collections. Each photo would contribute its own slice, the trio loaded into the Print module template for evaluation or “printing”. I had never previously made a triptych; this was fun and I like the end result. Now that I have some tools and repeatable steps for creating them, I am sure to try more. Thank you to Jon Cox for giving us the assignment and bringing me to try something new.