Challenge #20 A trio of triptychs   

The inspiration

Several of our recent speakers have spoken enthusiastically about creating series of related images in composite creations so that the whole is greater than the parts. You may recall Paul Mitchell waxing lyrical about making panels of images in his talk ‘The Seeing Eye’, and Achim Korherr in ‘Making Photographs’, so here’s an opportunity to have a go!

The Challenge

To keep things simple, this challenge will focus on creating panels of just three related images. A set of three images, often related in some way, is called a triptych; the images may be variations on a theme or different views of the same subject.

This Challenge involves creating up to three panels, each consisting of three related images i.e. three triptychs.


Here are some examples, kindly provided by Paul Mitchell. His advice is that not everything works, and the more complicated the image the less impact it has, so his motto is to keep it simple!

And here are some of Achim Korherr’s examples:

Choosing images for your triptychs

Decide on a theme for each of your triptychs and either take some new photos or browse your catalogues for a selection of images you have taken previously. You will need to consider the single images themselves, but also, and most importantly, how well the three images work together as a set. Some images simply work better together than others.

The triptychs can be in any genre e.g. landscape, architecture, wildlife etc, but the link between the images in each triptych might be subject matter, all butterflies for example, or all have been taken at one location, or they might be abstract or related through colour, tones, patterns, shapes, textures – or whatever you’d like to highlight in your own triptych.

With just three images, we would like them to be presented as one straight row of three images, but you will need to choose the order of the images that works best as a ‘balanced’ panel (see later).


If you’re not taking new photos, you’ll need to browse your catalogues to find images for your panel. Identify more than you will need for each panel, for example 10 architectural or 10 butterfly images. This will give you scope for choosing three that work well together. Think of this also as an opportunity to reimagine older images in a coherent style. There does not need to be a ‘story’, rather you should aim for an aesthetically pleasing panel.

The key for a coherent triptych is consistency.

What to aim for when choosing your images:

  • Similar subjects
  • You can mix landscape, portrait and square images but consider the symmetry of the final panel. You could, for example, surround a portrait image by a pair of landscape images, although the actual height of each image should still be the same.
  • Similar colour balance, which might mean choosing all indoor or all outdoor
  • Similar saturation of colours
  • Similar colours and tones. You could consider converting images of different colours to monochrome to remove the differences, or perhaps make a feature of similar objects in different colours
  • Similar horizons – you don’t want an image with the horizon at the bottom next to one with the horizon close to the top
  • Similar backgrounds
  • If you are going to have a border round the images, have it around all of them and use the same colour and width of line

Consider the flow of images in the triptych

  • In a triptych, leading lines could lead the eye from one image to the next and might converge towards the central image
  • The ‘directionality’ of the shapes might suggest the best positioning within the panel of three images. For example, the outer two images might face inwards and the inner one upwards.
  • Shapes can be echoed from one image to another

Deciding on the final layout

  • In a triptych, as mentioned above, the images often look best in a linear layout (three in a row) and this is the layout you should use for this Challenge
  • Separations between images should be equal
  • Consider how close or widely spaced you’d like the images to be
  • Consider the colour of the space between the images e.g. white, black or a contrasting colour
  • If one image looks weak or out of place, try another
  • Consider whether any of the images need to be reworked, such as changing the colour balance or converting to monochrome

How to create a triptych

Composite images can be created using a variety of different types of software and apps. In Photoshop, for example, you would create one empty image 1600 × 1200 px, upload your resized images into separate layers, move into position and save the images as a JPG (see Creating triptychs using Photoshop for more detailed information). You can also use Powerpoint (export as JPG), and for Lightroom Classic users, try the PRINT module. Lightroom users can find more information HERE. There is also a free open-source image editor that anyone can use called GIMP (see Creating triptychs using GIMP for more information).

Submitting your images

  • Please submit up to three composite images by WeTransfer to by midnight on Sunday 14 July (Note: this has been extended to midnight on Sunday 21 July). Please display the three images in each of your triptychs in a linear layout.
  • Please adhere to the guidelines for submission as set out on the BCC website for ‘Challenges’under ‘Submitting Images’. These are the same as images submitted for Cuppa & Capture.
  • To help the web team, please check the following list:
    • Images should be JPEG files
    • The image dimensions of your composite image must be a maximum of 1600 pixels wide or 1200 pixels high.
    • Your composite Image sizes must be less than 500kb. If not, please save your images at a lower resolution until they are.
    • The title metadata field’ should include your image title’ and ‘your nameas in the following example: York church spires, Freya Frost
    • There must be NO other metadata in the caption or description. (Note to Olympus users, you will have to delete ‘Olympus digital camera’ from the caption field
    • Your images should also be saved with file names as in the metadata, for example: York church spires, Freya Frost
    • The individual images are NOT required for this Challenge


Many thanks to Achim Korherr and Paul Mitchell for inspiring this Challenge and for allowing us to use examples of their triptychs in this Challenge.

We would also like to acknowledge Thornbury Camera Club, whose guidance for making triptychs was very helpful in writing this Challenge.