3/4 View Portraits and Photographs: What does it mean?

One term that gets thrown around really often in photography and art is “3/4”. You can find it either as “3/4 view”, “3/4 photo”, or “3/4 portrait”. Perhaps there are other variations as well. So what exactly is 3/4?

There are actually 2 distinct meanings, which we’ll check out in this post.

Sometimes it is used to refer to the angle, and sometimes, it is used to refer to the framing of the photograph.

3/4 View Portrait: definition #1

Just using the term 3/4 is not going to be sufficient, but if you use a modifier word after the fraction, you’ll be able to understand what the meaning is.

If you see the term 3/4 portrait, it commonly refers to a shot where the model is framed from the top of their head down to about their knees.

In this kind of photograph, 3/4 of the model is visible in the frame, hence the name. A 3/4 portrait has nothing to do with the angle the model is at, just how much of the model is visible.

While this is most common for human and animal subjects, you could theoretically apply this principle to inanimate objects as well.

American cowboy shot

Another variation of the 3/4 shot which combines the 3/4 portrait and the 3/4 view is combined, in a shot commonly called the American cowboy shot.

In this, the head of the model is turned around 45 degrees from the camera, and 3/4ths of the model’s body is visible in the shot.

This shot became popular in classic Westerns where the face of the actor would be visible as well as the gun on their hip.

Notice how around 3/4 of the model is visible, and the head is turned away so around 3/4 of it is visible

3/4 View Portrait: definition #2

Another definition and perhaps the more common one for 3/4 view is the kind of angle the model is facing you at. This kind of shot is called a 3/4 view because the only visible portion of the model’s face is 3/4ths of it.

To set up this pose, the model has their head turned slightly away from the camera in a way that the ear opposite the camera is just out of shot.

Even though it’s called a 3/4 view, it won’t always be 3/4 since everyone’s face size and shape is a little different.

A similar shot to a 3/4 view is a 2/3 view, where the model’s head is turned even further away, enough that the opposite eye appears very near the edge of the face.

You can use 3/4 view to take a photograph of the entire body of your model, or you can use a 3/4 view portrait to just take a photo with their face and/or neck in the frame.

This is a great example of a 3/4 photo. One may even argue that the face is turned away enough to make it a 2/3 photo. It is quite subjective!

Of course, one small difference between a full body 3/4 view shot and a portrait is that for a full body shot, the models entire body will be turned, whereas in a 3/4 portrait, it may just be their face that’s turned away, but you can’t see the rest of the body in the shot!

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Photographing other objects with 3/4 view

People are not the only things you can photograph with a 3/4 view. Many photos of locomotives, cars, airplanes, and other vehicles are commonly shot in a 3/4 view so that the front and the side can be visible.

3/4 photographs of cars can be used to accentuate certain features

For a bit more detail, the shot may be taken from a height to show parts of the top of the subject as well. This theme is very common in product photographs as well.

This product photograph is shot using a 3/4 angle

Fans of trains and locomotives will probably find this kind of shot very popular in their circles, as they feel this kind of shot is the ideal way to capture a photo of a train!

As you can see, 3/4 photos are very common and the principles can be applied to anything.

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Doing 3/4th view photography

Now that you know what a 3/4 photograph is, how do you set it up? There are basically two ways to do it:

  1. If you’re photographing a model, you can have them angle their face away from you at the desired degree in a 3/4 pose
  2. If you’re photographing in the field, you’ll have to set yourself up at the 3/4 angle from your subject

You need to make sure the light is coming from the proper angle, too. Since only part of the model will be visible to you, make sure the light is coming in a way the desired parts of the model are illuminated.

The lighting problem can be overcome by using a flash.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of camera you are using: you can shoot great 3/4 photos on a dSLR or you can choose to shoot a picture on your camera phone – in 3/4 photos, it’s all about the composition and lighting.

Playing around with light

You can really get creative with your 3/4 face shots by experimenting with the way light hits your subject. Typically, you’d want to the area of the face that is looking at the camera to be illuminated.

For even more creative effects, try adjusting the light in the following ways:

  • Have the part of the face that is away from the camera be point for light to fall on. This will cause the 3/4 profile to have shadows cast over it, and depending on the strength of the light, can make for unique effects
  • You can also try casting the light from the top or bottom

Other ways you can make the 3/4 pose interesting is by having the model stand with their torso facing you but their face is turned away at a 3/4 angle.

Alternatively, they can be fully facing you at a 3/4 angle for a body shot.

Drawing a 3/4th view portrait

We’re mostly about photography, but 3/4 view is also a very common kind of art form in painting and sketching. We scoured the web for some of the best 3/4 view tutorials. 3/4 view is commonly used in drawing comic book and anime characters:

Conclusion

3/4 portrait photography gives you a lot of creative license to take some really amazing photographs. Utilizing angles and shadows also helps to improve photos from “deer stuck in headlights” to “dapper Dan” instantly!

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras: Know your gear!

Let’s talk about gear: a common term used for describing cameras is SLR and sometimes dSLR. So what’s the difference between the two? And if you’re looking to buy, which one should you get?

What are (d)SLR cameras

So the first thing to talk about would be SLR cameras in general. dSLR cameras are actually a subset within SLR cameras, so once you understand what an SLR camera is, it will be quite simple to discuss dSLR cameras.

SLR is short for Single Lens Reflector.

This indicates the way light enters the camera, how the image is captured, and what you see in the cameras viewfinder or eyepiece.

In regular point and shoot cameras, the viewfinder sits above the lens, so there’s a tiny difference of a few centimeters between the center of the lens and the center of the viewfinder.

Manufacturers have to do this because compact cameras usually don’t have enough room to route the light from the lens to the viewfinder directly.

In SLR cameras, the light entering the lens is reflected using a mirror up to the viewfinder through a prism, so what you see through the viewfinder is what the lens is actually seeing.

The prism is important because the image hitting the mirror is actually upside down, and the prism makes it right-side-up again.

Note: Interestingly enough, the image that lands on your retina is also upside down. This is because the lens refracts the light and turns it upside down. Your brain automatically compensates for this and makes it right side up.

When you click the shutter button, the mirror springs up, letting light onto the film or image sensor, and springs back down to shut it again.

That’s why you see the viewfinder closing and opening when you take a photo.

Finally, SLR cameras have switchable lenses, which is arguably the biggest advantage they have over other cameras.

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SLR cameras vs dSLR cameras

Now that you know what an SLR camera is, let’s talk about dSLR cameras and how they’re different from SLR cameras.

Essentially, dSLR cameras work in the exact same was as SLR cameras. Light enters through the lens, and a mirror reflects the light up through a prism into the viewfinder.

When you click the shutter button on an SLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls on a roll of film, commonly 35 mm film.

When you click the shutter button on a dSLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls onto a digital sensor which captures the image.

The major difference, as you can see, is that SLR cameras use film, and dSLR cameras use a digital sensor.

Because a digital sensor is involved, dSLR cameras can actually do a lot more with the image than a regular SLR camera.

Pros and cons of SLRs and dSLRs

Even though the basic mechanism is the same, since dSLRs are digital and SLRs use film, there’s a lot of differences.

Film and memory cards

The first and possibly most important distinction to make between the two is the fact that SLRs use film and dSLRs are digital.

Film cameras used to be the standard even after digital cameras first came about, because at the time, digital sensors were not quite advanced and could not capture as much detail as a film camera could.

Nowadays, digital sensors are very advanced and can capture huge images with incredible amounts of detail.

In today’s world, it’s difficult to find film anywhere, and it’s also difficult to find places that still develop film!

Aside from that, the obvious advantage of digital photographs is that you can store thousands on a memory card, whereas you can only take 30-40 photos per roll of film, so the cost of film and the cost of developing really adds up.

You can also view photos right away on a digital camera. With film, you have no idea how the photograph turned out until you develop it, and if you took a bad shot, that much film was basically wasted.

RAW photos

Another difference between SLRs and dSLRs is the ability of dSLR cameras to take RAW photos. RAW photos are photos where the whole range of exposure is captured in the photo, so you can post-process the photo to adjust exposure and bring out highlights and shadows.

Of course, this is only possible with the digital sensor.

Using film, you can only get what you captured, nothing else.

Shooting modes

Since the digital sensor is picking up the image live, you can actually utilize a variety of shooting modes and the camera can actually help you take better pictures.

Aperture priority

In aperture priority mode, you can control the aperture of the shot and the camera will automatically compensate the shutterspeed to get a good shot. Of course, the result will not always be perfect, but you can at least get a good range of shutter speeds to work with automatically.

Shutter priority

In Shutter priority mode, you can control the shutter speed and the camera will compensate with the aperture. Sometimes you’ll end up with a darker photo if you set the shutter speed too high for the lighting conditions and the camera just doesn’t have enough aperture to keep up.

Video

Finally, digital SLR cameras actually can record really respectable video! Many vloggers and YouTubers actually like to use dSLR cameras for shooting video, often with a microphone attached to the hotshoe bay.

Power consumption

Power consumption is one avenue where SLRs actually do better than dSLRs. Because there is so much going on in a digital SLR, they will consume a lot of power and drain the battery fairly quickly.

Regular film SLRs won’t consume nearly as much power and one set of batteries can actually last quite a long time.

Heck, some film SLRs can work without batteries too, but you’ll have to adjust everything(including focus) manually.

Sensitivity

Finally, let’s talk about sensitivity.

ISO

Sensitivity is measured by ISO, which is a measure of film speed, or how fast it can capture light. In films, higher ISOs were used for nighttime photography as they could capture light better.

With digital sensors such as in dSLRs, ISO was adapted into a feature that you could adjust up and down. In a film camera, you’d have to finish one roll of film of a given ISO before being able to change it.

With digital cameras, you can adjust the ISO up and down for every single shot. Plus, film ISOs only reached a certain sensitivity. Digital sensors are now capable of sensitivities hundreds of times greater.

Cost

dSLR cameras are now really inexpensive and entry level cameras can be found without breaking the bank at all. The beauty of these cameras is that you can just upgrade your lens when you want to up your game.

Film SLR cameras are not too common nowadays and if you factor in the cost of film and developing, it works out to be a lot more expensive!

Conclusion

As you can see, SLR and dSLR cameras are quite similar in their basic workings but as soon as you get past the mirror and reach the film or sensor is where the differences start to come out.

Today, dSLRs are the standard and film SLRs are just used by hobbyists and for highly specialized applications and situations.

More information:

Small aperture: what does it mean and when do you use it?

a chart of aperture values

When people say “small aperture”, there is often some confusion as to what it means. In this post, we’ll talk about small aperture, large apertures, and how they affect your photographs.

What is meant by small aperture?

A small aperture is a large f-stop number. The f-stop is a way of measuring what the aperture of the lens is at. The higher the f-stop, the lower the aperture – meaning less light will be let into the camera.

Small aperture vs big aperture

On the other hand, a small f-stop number means a large aperture. The smaller the f-stop number is, the larger the opening in the lens will be and more light will be let into the camera.

How to read f-stops

f-stops are indicated by the letter f and a number, like f/8 or f-8. Here’s the part that confuses most beginning photographers:

F stops go in the opposite direction of aperture!

To recap:

Higher f-stops means smaller aperture

Lower f-stops means bigger aperture

An f-stop of say f/16 will mean the opening in the lens is very small, allowing very little light through. An f-stop of f/2.8 on the other hand will mean the opening in the lens is quite large, and will allow a lot of light through.

You can use the f-stop to control the exposure in your photographs. Higher f-stops are good for photos in bright sunlight, and low f-stops are good for night photography or in situations where there is little light.

Common aperture and f-stop values

F-stops are standardized, which means that for the most part, the aperture on a particular f-stop on one lens will be the same as the same value f-stop on another lens.

When you are shopping for lenses, you’ll be able to see the maximum and minimum aperture the lens is capable of. This will help you decide on which lens to get.

For most everyday photography, a stock lens that can do f/2.8 up to f/16 will be fine.

For more specialized applications, you will need to get specific lenses that can manage apertures of up to f/1.4 or f/22 and f/32.

f/8 is about halfway(it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it is) between extremely low and extremely high values.

a chart of aperture values

Combining aperture and shutter speed

Aperture needs to be used in conjunction with shutter speed, otherwise your photos will not come out correctly. At smaller apertures, where the lens is wide open, you need to use a faster shutter speed. Otherwise, you risk letting too much light into the photograph and over-exposing it.

At larger apertures, where the lens is stopped down(smaller), you will need to use a slower shutter speed. Otherwise, not enough light will enter the lens and your photos will come out darker.

In most digital cameras and dSLRs, you will find a function that will let you adjust the aperture and compensate the shutter speed automatically.

When you are starting out, this is a good setting to use. You can make a note of what shutter speed the camera used for your desired aperture, and if you’re not happy with the result, pop over to manual mode, set the aperture you need, and adjust the shutter speed based on what you noted in the first shot.

Aperture and depth of field

Aside from controlling exposure, aperture is also very useful for varying the depth of field of your photographs. Put simply, depth of field means how much of your photo is sharp and how much is blurred.

By adjusting the aperture, you can either blur the background and part of the foreground, or you can make the entire photograph relatively sharp.

This is especially evident in landscape photographs and portraits/macro photographs.

Related

Depth of field in portrait photographs

In a portrait or macro photo, you want to keep the subject as sharp as possible and blur out the background. Or for an artistic effect, you may wish to blur the subject slightly as well.

For these effects, you want to use a low or small aperture, which means more light will enter. Small apertures will blur the background and make the subject look more enhanced.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the greater exposure using a faster shutter speed.

This is an example of a photo with small aperture. The increased size of the lens allows more light in and blurs the background. If you notice, there is a little bit of blurryness on the edges of the subject, too.

Depth of field in landscape photographs

An example of using high aperture is a photograph of a landscape or a cityscape.

In these photos, you want the entire photograph to have even sharpness. A high aperture(less light coming in) will let you get this effect.

The degree of blurring in the background(less or more) is known as bokeh. Once you start incorporating bokeh into your camera work, you’ll notice a huge improvement in the quality of your photographs.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the lesser exposure using a slower shutter speed. In many cases, landscape photos are best taken from a tripod since your hands may not be able to keep the camera stable enough to avoid shakes.

This is an example of a photograph taken with a high aperture, or less light coming in. Notice how the sharpness is evenly distributed across the entire photograph.

How to set aperture in your camera

In a dSLR camera, you’ll typically find a dial with various letters on it. To control the aperture, you have two choices. Either set the dial to A or Av, which will let you control the aperture (typically by using the scroll wheel).

In Aperture priority mode, the camera will adjust shutter speed automatically to try and get you the best photographs.

If you want full control over your photographs, you can set the dial to M, which is manual mode. In this mode, you will need to adjust everything manually: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Related

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras

Rangefinder vs SLR cameras

Conclusion

I hope this cleared up the confusion about small and large apertures. Remember, in apertures, small numbers mean more light, and bigger numbers mean less light!