Chair Triptych


Frequent visitors to this blog might remember this chair which previously was shown with digital photographs here. This in-camera triptych is taken with the half-frame Pen on film. I am not sure if the change in chair orientation is enough transformation to make the photograph really work. For some reason, my son, while willing to rotate the chair for me, refused to sit in it. The white sweater probably had quite a bit to do with that. But it might have worked better with him sitting in one of the shots.

Again, I am not convinced that colour, or black and white, works best. So you get to see them both. I lean towards the colour – the rust of the chair goes well with some of the rocks and grasses and the reds in the alder branches too.




This is another in my half-frame film series, and of the multitychs which are defined as two or more photographs shot on adjacent half-frames with the intent to scan them as a single image.

Olympus Pen, Half Frame, 28mm lens, Fujicolor Superia 200, ISO200, 1/50th, ~f5.6, NDX4 filter


36 thoughts on “Chair Triptych

  1. I just got a Pen EE-S and I’m really keen to try some diptychs and triptychs like your chairs here. This might seem a silly question but which frame do you shoot first? Was the first one shot the one on the left?

    If I was doing a panorama triptych for example, would I go to the far left of the scene first, shoot, wind on, then move the camera to the right, shoot, wind on, then move right again until I reached the far right edge of the overall scene? Left to right seems logical, but wanted to check with someone experienced!

    Many thanks,



    • Hi Dan, thanks for commenting.

      This shot was taken without moving the camera, but instead by moving the chair. Stationary camera triptychs and diptychs can be really interesting when something is changing in the shot – you just need to fix on something right in the corner of the frame outline in the view finder so you can frame to something close after winding the film on.

      As to panoramas, I had to think about it for a minute as I have not used the Pen for a few months. In fact I had to check my negatives! You shoot left to right. If doing vertical ones, then rotate the camera counter clockwise and go bottom to top. (The confusing part is the image is upside down in the camera when it hits the film).

      Check the link below, or the Olympus Pen tag at the bottom of the post and scroll through the pages of Pen shots for some ideas – the early posts have information about methods too (for instance the frame outline in the viewfinder of my Pen is 11% less than the actual image, so getting things to line up well is very tricky and takes practice. Also keep in mind the narrow EV range for the camera with few shutter speeds – you need to shoot quite slow film. On mine since I only have two working shutter speeds (50th and 100th) I have to use 50 or 100ISO film if I want to shoot in sunlight. If you have 1/200th (I think that is one of two automatically chosen in the EES?) then you can go to 200ISO I think.

      Have fun! They are great cameras to play with, and you get so many more shots out of a roll of film.


      • Wow thanks for such a quick and in depth response! : )

        I had this thought in the back of my mind about the images being flipped over inside the camera, then dismissed it. Then I remember a documentary about someone making a camera obscura from a whole room with black curtains and a tiny hole cut in them, and that flipped the image that was projected on the opposite wall. And so I wondered again.

        So shooting sequentially, starting at the right of the overall scene I want to capture, then moving to the left, will mean the component frames of the triptych will be in the right order when the film is developed?

        From the instructions of my Pen EE-S it says it has shutter speeds of 1/40 or 1/200. So f/2.8 at 1/40s to f/22 at 1/200 gives a pretty wide range of exposures (EV8 to EV16 the instructions say, with ISO100 film). It also has the red flag when it’s likely to underexpose so I’ll keep an eye on that too.

        About the viewfinder being 11% less than the image, does that mean the overall image you see in the viewfinder (ie going beyond the framelines and right to the edges of the glass) is about the same size as the composition you get on film? My Pen might be different so I’ll experiment by shooting some rectangular objects that perfectly fill the frame lines and see how they come out in the final image.

        Thanks again for the tips.



      • Hi Dan,

        Oops, sorry about that, I started to write an answer before I checked the negatives and then edited it, but not completely. On my negatives for panoramas the lowest frame number is the left hand side of the scene, so I was shooting left to right. Which feels correct when I hold the camera in terms of the muscle memory side of things. And if you rotate the left side of the camera downward for vertical panoramas, then you shoot bottom to top (I edited that part correctly at the time of my first answer – I have gone back and fixed my first answer as well).

        You have nearly another stop than my camera (f3.5 on mine) on the lens and another with the speed as well since mine is broken for 1/200 (and 1/25), so that helps a lot. The sunny sixteen rule would suggest you can comfortably use 200ISO film (if you can find any) even on a sunny beach or in snow which would want an f22 exposure at 1/200 and otherwise f16 for other sunny conditions. 400ISO will be pushing it in bright sunshine (f22 all the time which may well be beyond the sweet spot of the lens), but doable as well from the looks of it. I would shoot 100 or 200 if you can find it.

        I took a picture of my french doors for the calculation of frame coverage. On my camera the 11% is between the outer limits of the view finder and well outside of the frame lines. I never really got it nailed down for consistency. I found if I went past where I thought it should be, that would usually work. I was feeling my way towards comfortable alignments. The camera developed light leaks which I have not got around to fixing, but I will be using it again soon I think. It is loaded with film.


      • Ok, thanks for correcting, left to right felt logical, but what about the camera flipping the images? Does it flip them, and make them back to front, because it’s negative film? This is where I get a bit confused! Anyway, I’ll go with what you say, left to right.

        I was thinking about the Sunny 16 rule with the fixed 1/40s. A great tip I read from someone on Flickr was that the Sunny 16 rule in the UK becomes Sunny 11, because we hardly ever get bright enough sunshine for f/16! It’s worked pretty well for me the few times I’ve tried.

        So with that, and ISO200 film and the fixed 1/40s shutter speed, the aperture would need to be f/22 to roughly equate to f/11 and 1/250s in the brightest conditions here. More likely I’d be using around f/11 for the more common overcast or diffused sunlight kind of conditions more common here. With the latitude of negative film I could probably shoot most of the time outside at f/8 and 1/40s and not over expose.

        Anyway, I want to try trusting the camera’s selenium meter and auto exposure for the first roll and see how it does. If it’s way off, I have the 1/40s and “Sunny 22” option above to revert to! The camera is firing at different apertures and shutter speeds when I point it to different degrees of light, I just need to see how accurate the meter is in practice.

        Why do you say ISO200 film “if you can find any”? I have a ton of ISO200 film, it’s widely available here, in camera shops and some supermarkets not to mention in abundance on eBay and Amazon. Do you have trouble getting ISO200 film? Surely it’s readily available online from the US if not in Canada?

        I’m going to browse your site more, and not just the Pen and half frame posts. : )

        Thanks again,



      • Hi Dan. In the few stores that carry cheaper film (pharmacies and some camera stores) mostly (pretty much entirely) it is 100 and 400ISO. We have one specialty store in town that carries a wide range of film but most of it is expensive. I have not bought film on line yet but could get 200 that way.
        We have a climate in Victoria similar to places like Devon or Cornwall (very little if any snow, far far less grey than London). I find sunny 16 works pretty well here. But then most film is quite forgiving these days.
        If you are mostly interested in film then I have only been back to film for a year or so – the Pen was what got me back into it and so in terms of where to browse in my blog anything older than the first Pen post is digital.


    • Hi Ashley – thanks for commenting so long past. Just getting to them now! The chair is returning nature, and the first order of business is to blend in visually. I imagine this chair, in its prime, with thickly stuffed patterned pink upholstery. While that might make an interesting shot too, this blending with the landscape IS more subtle. Maybe weeds and alders will grow up around it, and it will become one with the earth. I have spent quite a lot of time not far up the coast in Barkley Sound. One of the archaeological sites I recorded up there is a late 1800s First Nations cemetery. At that time they piled the possessions of the dead person on their graves. It is very strange to come across, in dense thickets of shrubs, a brass bed frame, or sewing machine, looking as if they had formed there on their own.


    • Hi Mark – thank you for your comment of so long ago. I have been having a bit of a sabbatical, largely unintended, from commenting, but am trying to catch up now.


  2. It’s really interesting that you can do this in-camera – is that specific to the camera you’re using? Or would any film SLR be capable of this?.(Sorry, I’m sure you’ve explained this process in past posts but I’m WAY behind on my blog reading.) I’ve been experimenting with some diptychs and triptychs lately, but doing it in Lightroom as potential print layouts. I like some of the results I’ve had, but am not sure whether to take them any further (e.g. to actually spend the money to have them printed).


    • Hi Laurie
      You could do this on any SLR if you wanted to, but with different aspect ratios, or some serious manipulation of double exposures. My camera is a half-frame camera, that is it uses only half of the normal 35mm frame area for a single shot (72 exposures on a roll of 36). That gives a different size of image which allows for triptychs that are not terribly wide. I think you could shoot diptychs quite successfully with a full frame SLR. I get the film processed uncut without prints, then I scan the negatives as single images. I think I have got up to 5 frames into one image (click on the half-frame camera tag to see the whole collection). It depends on what I want to do.
      I have also been shooting images where the two shots are the same view, but with the camera rotated 180 degrees, and other similar manipulations. It can get pretty tricky to frame things when doing that type of thing as the upside down image can be very displaced along the join. I have also been experimenting with ways to have the join blend into the adjacent images and not be so noticeable. There is quite a lot to learn but it sure has been fun for the past couple of months with my 50 year old Olympus Pen.


      • Sounds very interesting ehpem – thanks for the explanation. Might have to try it one of these days. Sorry for slow reply – our power’s been down the past few days. I expect you have had a lot of snow there too and perhaps an outage. The power’s back on now, thankfully!


      • Hi Laurie- I could not reply either for a while – I was on Quadra Island without power due to the snow. At my house, I am reliably told, that there was almost no snow and what there was did not stick. The Harling Point area of Victoria has the most moderate weather in Victoria (and probably Vancouver Island) – warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. I think it is the close proximity to ocean on three sides (it is 1 block or less to three different beaches from our house), I grew up in North Saanich which is only 20km or so north of here, and there is much more snow there – probably more like the southern gulf islands.


      • It’s interesting how much difference proximity to the water and small changes in altitude can make. We had over a foot of snow at our place, which is at about 100 feet above sea level. Just 2 km down the road, at Silva Bay, there was very little snow – in fact when we went to check on our boat (after we finally managed to get our 300-ft long driveway clear enough to get our car out), there was NO snow left on the boat at all, and very little on the docks.


      • I am fascinated by the local variations. Years ago someone gave me a book on the local variations in Victoria’s weather (which I wish I could find) – our area was classified as totally unsuitable for growing grapes (to we would would add tomatoes) while places not too far from here are excellent for both.
        I was told by a long time Quadra resident that there is a great deal of difference on Quadra from north to south as the north end is much more subject to outflow winds from Bute Inlet and gets a lot more snow than the rest of the island.


      • Similarly, Gabriola has an “equator right across the centre of the island – the weather on one side is often completely different from that on the other side. The Village end is impacted by Nanaimo weather, the south end (where I live) by Vancouver weather and by outlow winds from Howe Sound (which don’t affect the north end so much). I’ve seen snow at one end with none at the other end a number of times; ditto for thick fog. Bob Bossin used to joke about the “sunny southerners” and the “hardy northern tribes” of Gabriola.


      • Bob Bossin has a lot of good ideas, and songs. I found his book on the history of Clayoquot Sound that he did with the BC Archives a few decades ago very useful when I was working on Meares Island, also a few decades ago.


  3. When I first saw this, I liked the color one better (I know!) because I liked the way the reddish color on the chair worked with the yellows in the rocks in the foreground and the grasses behind the chair. But when I looked again, I decided that I liked the b&w version better because the chair seemed less a part of the other elements. Which seems right for this poor chair.


    • I guess I should have entered in that photo challenge, if I known it existed. I scheduled a week of posts in advance since I am out of town, so maybe they were looking through the scheduled posts for a theme? The least they could have done would be to add a few tags so I lined up with the challenge….


  4. Here is another instance where the black and white works better for me even though the chair itself has some nice color in it. But in the color version it seems the chair is competing with the background.


    • Hi Ken, for me it is an instance where it is hard to let go of the colour. I really like the rusty colours and how they go with the environment, as if the chair is blending in. So, competing, but not for long. Even so, I see what you mean, and I like the black and white versions as much as the colour.


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