Diptych and triptych, what are these fancy words? You would be surprised at how often you see diptychs and triptychs around without realising it.

“Traditionally, a diptych (/ˈdɪptɪk/; from the Greek δίπτυχον,[1] di “two” + ptychē “fold”) is any object with two flat plates attached at a hinge.”*

“A triptych (/ˈtrɪptɪk/ TRIP-tik; from the Greek adjective τρίπτυχον (“three-fold”), from tri, i.e., “three” and ptysso, i.e., “to fold” or ptyx, i.e., “fold”) is a work of art (usually a panel painting) that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open.”^

In the photography world, a diptych is a photograph that uses two different or identical images side by side to form one single artistic statement. The two images can literally be in contact with each other, or separated by a border or frame.

A photographic triptych is commonly used in modern commercial artwork. The pieces are usually arranged with a plain border between them, it may consist of separate images that are variants on a theme, or may be one larger image split into three. Think movie and TV posters, often characters are given their own individual space on a poster but together.

There is endless potential to what your diptych (or triptych) subject is. If you look at the example below of a Protea cynaroides, it is a representation of the same plant at different stages of flowering.

Kevin Cheng: 268/365 - Little Prince

Kevin Cheng: 268/365 – Little Prince

We have been swamped by sulphur crested cockatoos lately. There are hundreds of them feeding on liquidamber seeds down the road from me. This quick diptych shows how by combining different focal lengths, I can depict a number of birds in the one frame, yet tell the story of what a bird is busy doing.

Kevin Cheng: Cockatoos

Kevin Cheng: Cockatoos

You may want to tell a before and after story. Mine would probably be the stunning transformation from before coffee to after coffee.


Just like the themes in VOTogs52, there are endless possibilities to how you present your images. It might be square crops or a 2:3 ratio side by side. Or stacked on top of one another in a vertical format. In fact, you do not necessarily need the images to be of the same size and ratio. Think of the rule of thirds, your two, or three images, can be worked to fit with the rule of thirds. Play with your images, move them around. The sum of them is greater than each individual part. Have fun with diptychs and triptychs next time you have a few images you want to show off at once.


Here are some more examples from Flickr:


Bokeh Diptych   березовая аллея - winter vs. autumn
Photos by ~Minnea~ (Left) and Tatters (right).

Berry Merry ♥   Andy #062 alternate diptych
Photos by Maira Gall (left) and Peter McConnochie (right).

opposites   Andre
Photos by Shandi-lee Cox (left) and Kevin Klöcker (right).


53/365   Scintilli
Photos by Marcus McBride (left) and Alessandro Pautasso (right).

another day   The Sweet Relief of a Little Shared Madness
Photos by Alessandro Pautasso (left) and Lotus Carroll (right).

Untitled   Me on the Foggy Day
Photos by stu (left) and Nicki Varkevisser (right).

* Source: Wikipedia.

^ Source: Wikipedia.


Kevin Cheng Bio PicKevin Cheng is a product of East colliding with West, a juxtaposition of old culture and new. Eternally juggling his roles as husband, father, IT boffin, engineer, chef, photographer, gadget reviewer, writer, whisky connoisseur, wine lover and dreamer. He is generally found in a highly keffinated state and is a workaholic who does not understand the meaning of slowing down. He can be found sporadically on Flickr or say hello on Twitter @aerokev.


One thought on “Tripping The ‘tych: An Explanation of Diptychs and Triptychs.

  1. Great article. However, the pedantic in me can’t get over the fact they are not sulphur crested cockatoos – they are short-beaked corellas

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