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Diptychs

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What's a Diptych?

A diptych has two photographs that are paired.

The pair are linked in some way.

The link between the two photographs can be:

• Subject

• Formal relationships, such as light, color, composition

• Story

• Theme

• Binaries: Before/after, good/bad, easy/hard, sweet/sour, snow/no snow, up/down, happy/sad

For example, the photographs below were taken of the same scene.

But, the one on the left used a wide-angle focal length, and the one on the right, a telephoto focal length.

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Wide-angle Focal Length Telephoto Focal Length

Triptychs?

A triptych has three images.

Presentation

The two photographs can be:

• Placed on a background.

• Printed on the same sheet of paper.

• Displayed in a mat with two window openings.

• Framed separately, and hung side-by-side.

Inspiration

Flickr

• Google

Wikipedia

Photoshop Elements

We'll use Photoshop Elements to place two photographs on a background.

The assembly can then be displayed and printed as a unit.

Open

1) Open two photographs in Photoshop Elements.

Edit

2) Edit each of the photographs.

Create a Composite Layer

For each photograph, you need to combine all of the layers into a single layer.

This layer is called a composite layer.

After you make the composite layer, it'll be at the top of the stack of layers.

Composite Layer

Layer 3

Layer 2

Layer 1

Background copy

Background

Your other layers will still be there, below the composite layer.

Later, the two composite layers are moved to the background.

3) Create a composite layer for each photograph.

If you haven't already, go to Composite Layer.

4) Rename the composite layers as Photograph A and Photograph B.

Get the Size of Your Photographs

You need to know the size of your photographs, in pixels or inches.

5) Look just below the lower-left corner of one of your photographs.

By default, you'll see the size of the photograph file in megabytes.

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Document Size (MB's)

You need to know the dimensions of the file (pixels or inches), not the size of the file (MB's).

Look for the tiny black triangle to the right of the megabyte numbers, and click it.

Select Document Dimensions.

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Document Dimensions (Pixels or Inches)

Now, the dimensions of the photograph are displayed.

Pixels or Inches?

By default, Photoshop Elements displays the dimensions of your photographs in inches.

If you prefer the measurement in the number of pixels, do the following.

a) Go to Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop Elements > Preferences (Mac).

b) Click Units & Rulers on the left side of the window.

c) In the Rulers box, change inches to pixels.

What If the Photographs

Are Not the Same Size?

If one of the photographs is smaller, that may be fine.

The two photographs don't have to be the same size.

If they need to be the same size, you can resize the smaller photograph.

Let's say Photograph A is larger.

It's 1,000 pixels wide by 500 pixels high.

Photograph B is smaller.

It's 700 pixels wide by 400 pixels high.

You need to make Photograph B 500 pixels high, the same as Photograph A.

So, Photograph B's height needs to change from 400 to 500 pixels.

The width needs to increase, but you'll let Photoshop Elements do that automatically.

Do the following.

a) Double click on the thumbnail in the project bin/photo bin of the photograph that needs to be enlarged.

b) Go to Image > Resize > Image Size.

c) Make sure all three tick boxes are selected in the lower-left corner of the window.

d) Enter the new value for the height.

The width will change automatically to maintain the same aspect ratio (constrain proportions).

e) In the menu at the bottom of the window, select Bicubic Smoother.

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Bicubic Smoother

e) Click OK.

Colored Background?

Photograph as the Background?

Do you want your photographs to appear on a colored background or on top of a third photograph?

Colored Background

Third Photograph as a Background

Background: How Big?

6) On a piece of paper, draw two rectangles, representing your photographs.

7) Write down the sizes of the photographs.

8) Determine how much space you want between the photographs.

9) Determine the size of the four borders around the pair of photographs.

10) Add up the values to arrive at the size of the background.

Select the Color of the Background

By default, the foreground and background colors at the bottom of the tool bar on the left side of your screen are black and white.

If not, press d or click the tiny black-and-white boxes icon.

If the colors are reversed, press x, or click the tiny double-arrow icon.

The colors will switch positions.

11) If you want:

• A white background, make sure the background color is white.

• A black background, make sure the background color is black.

• A different color, double click the background color icon to open the Color Picker.

If you haven't already done so, go to Color Picking.

Create the Background

You're creating a blank file consisting of just a canvas.

Your two photographs will be moved to this canvas.

12) Go to File > New > Blank File.

13) In the window, enter:

• A name for the file.

• The width.

• The height.

• The same resolution value as the photographs, such as 72n or 300 ppi.

• Make sure the Color Mode is set to RGB Color.

• In the Background Contents box select Background Color.

14) Click OK.

Next

Photograph as the Background

You can use a photograph as the background.

6) Open a third photograph that'll be the background.

You may want to darken it so the two photographs stand out from background photograph.

7) If so, use a Levels adjustment layer.

Or, you may want to blur the photograph slightly, so it reads as the background.

8) If so, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Will the two diptych photographs fit on the background photograph?

9) If not, do the following.

a) Go to Image > Resize > Image Size.

b) Make sure all three tick boxes are selected in the lower-left corner of the window.

c) Enter the new value for the width or the height.

The other dimension will change automatically to maintain the same aspect ratio (constrain proportions).

d) In the menu at the bottom of the window, select Bicubic Smoother.

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Bicubic Smoother

e) Click OK.

Move Your Photographs

You're now ready to move the two photographs on to the colored background or the background photograph.

A) Select the Move tool.

Photograph A

B) In the project bin/photo bin at the bottom of your screen, double click Photograph A.

C) Make sure the composite layer is selected in the layers stack.

D) Click and hold on the image of Photograph A that's in the middle of your screen.

E) Drag the image down to the thumbnail of the background in the project bin/photo bin.

Photograph B

F) In the project bin/photo bin at the bottom of your screen, double click Photograph B.

G) Make sure the composite layer is selected in the layers stack.

H) Click and hold on the image of Photograph B that's in the middle of your screen.

I) Drag the image down to the thumbnail of the background in the project bin/photo bin.

Reposition the Two Photographs

The two photographs are probably on top of each other.

The Move tool is still selected.

J) Click and hold on the top photograph, the image in the middle of your screen.

Move it to one side.

Do the same with the other photograph.

Position Exactly

You can use a grid to position the two photographs precisely.

K) Go to View > Grid.

The grid may not useful if its boxes are too small or too big.

You can change the size of the grid boxes.

Do the following.

a) Go to Edit > Preferences (Windows) or Photoshop Elements > Preferences (Mac).

b) Click Guides & Grid on the left side of the window.

c) In the Gridline every box, enter a new value.

If you're using inches, enter 1.

If you're using pixels, enter 100 pixels.

Using the Move tool, click and hold on the photograph, and drag.

You can use the arrow keys to fine tune the position.

Save the Diptych

L) Press Ctrl + s.

Adjust the Colored Background

Evaluate how the two photographs look together.

If needed, you can change the size of the colored background.

Do the following.

a) Go to Image > Resize > Canvas Size.

Canvas is the Photoshop-Elements term for the colored background.

b) Enter a new value for the width or the height.

If the Relative box is selected, the other dimension will change automatically to maintain the same aspect ratio (constrain proportions).

c) At the bottom of the window, make sure the color of the added canvas will be the same color as the existing canvas.

The color of the existing canvas is the color you selected above for the background.

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Canvas Extension Color

d) Click OK.

Resize

Your diptych may be a huge file.

If it's 12,000 pixels wide, or 100 inches wide, you may want to reduce the size.

Do the following.

a) Go to Image > Resize > Image.

b) Make sure all three tick boxes are selected in the lower-left corner of the window.

c) Enter the new value for the width.

The height will change automatically to maintain the same aspect ratio (constrain proportions).

d) In the menu at the bottom of the window, select Bicubic Sharper.

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Bicubic Sharper

e) Click OK.

Example

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Changing Perspective and Focal Length