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Thread: polyptych photos

  1. #1

    polyptych photos

    I couldn't find any recent threads concerning polyptych photographs, so I'm starting this one.
    Specifically I'd like to know how to photograph a subject and keep the frames registered, like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    What tripod head (or other equipment) would be necessary to do this? How would a portrait be taken? How would you calculate the amount of vertical and horizontal movement necessary?

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Greenwood Lake NY USA

    Re: polyptych photos

    I'm not sure I understand the question so I'll take a different approach.

    The sample image, is it one of yours? A very curious image, I like it.

    There is a possibility that this image was made in the following way: photograph the still-life as a single frame; make a print of still life; overlay four glass rectangles having distressed edges and corners; re-photograph the image and make the final print. This might also involve as options working with large format negative and also contact printing.

  3. #3

    Re: polyptych photos

    The image is by an artist named Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer. I should have given credit when I posted the image. It's a wet plate collodion image.

    Yeah, I'm not sure how to phrase the question. An example I'm thinking of would be four panel portraits - google "Kasia Wozniak", another collodion photographer.

    If I'm photographing a head, and I take a picture of the upper left quadrant, how do I then move the camera to take a photograph of the upper right quadrant so that the two images align and there is no overlap along the shared edge between the two images? Assuming I'm shooting 4x5, do I just move the camera horizontally 4" for the second image? And then to photograph the lower two quadrants, move down 5"?

    Sorry for not articulating my question very clearly. I hope that made some sense.


  4. #4
    Pieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018

    Re: polyptych photos

    I have done something similar stitching digital images made with a view camera, but not with the precision you are showing. Here's how I would approach the problem: Take a piece of foamcore board the size of the subject, and grid it into quarters, then make a rectangle the same size as one quarter positioned in the center of the board. Position the board to frame the center quarter and see how much you have to move the back to isolate each of the side quarters.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5

    Re: polyptych photos

    I have done this a few times with three 5x7 negatives making a 7x15" final contact print. My approach was to use rear shift rather than move the camera. This won't work with most cameras, but my 5x7 (a wooden Canham) has a great deal of rear shift, and I had a machine shop etch a scale on the rear standard so I know exactly where each image starts and stops. It also requires a lens with a great deal of coverage (I used a 210mm Computar). Sorry, no scanned images.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Re: polyptych photos

    Always been a fan of Dewoud Bey's 20x24 polaroid polyptichs.

  7. #7

    Re: polyptych photos

    Ahh, rear shift!
    I didn't think of that, since I have a field camera.
    But that would make sense. So when you shifted your back Jason, was it the width of the negative (5") every time?
    Pieter - nice image. Thanks for sharing.
    And large format polaroids - what's not to love?

  8. #8

    Re: polyptych photos

    That is right, I shifted the width of the image, which is a tad bit under 5". I suppose for distant images you might be able to get away with front shift or rise, but the advantage for rear shift is that the point of view remains the same, rather than moving it 5" to the right or left.

    I do have one scanned image, which is an older one before I had the scale etched into the back. As you can see, the sides are not perfectly lined up, and overlap a bit. With the etched scale I am more precise and can get the image almost exact.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Re: polyptych photos

    There's a way to fake this on a single sheet. Put an opaque cross on the surface of the film and take the exposure. When printed you get separators. Putting clean fine tape lines down is the hard bit - probably a job for IR glasses. A carefully cut internal quarter mask for the lens side of the camera back is another. That's the easier way, and does not require darkroom planning.

    I have done this making prints, but never had a need to do it on a film original.

  10. #10

    Re: polyptych photos

    Jason - on the triptych you posted (nice, BTW) did you compose the middle frame, then shift left and right for the outside frames?
    How would you shoot a quadriptych, with two upper images and two lower images, like this Kasia Wozniak portrait:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Assuming a 4x5 negative, would you start with 2.5" of rear rise, compose in the middle, then shift left 2" and rise 2.5" (for the upper left); shift right 4" (for the upper right); lower 5" (for the lower right); shift 4" left (for the lower left)?
    Seems pretty clunky. I guess an etched scale would make it easier. You don't have a picture of that, do you Jason? I'd love to see it.
    Thanks for everyone's input.

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