3/4 Portrait Shots

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017


It is always nice to give your macro photography insect some personality, and doing a 3/4 view is a great way to do so.

The 3/4 view also adds an illusion of depth as the lighting style will usually have a 2:1 ratio on it. This is known as Rembrandt lighting, as he used lighting ratios to add drama to his portraits. Many of the ways of achieving for macro this is covered elsewhere in the studio lighting techniques section.

It should be noted that it is especially preferable to have a telecentric lens when doing 3/4 views. A telecentric lens doesn't increase image magnification depending on the distance from the lens. This means that out of focus objects in the foreground will not obstruct the view as much as otherwise, and for stacking it is easier to predict what will be in the frame since the framing is essentially the same throughout the stack.

3/4 View Origins

The 3/4 view is a classic portrait photography pose in which the subject turns their face just slightly in one direction until you cannot see the far ear any more.

It works well for all sorts of reasons, including but not limited to increased shape definition, and with good 2:1 lighting control it can add an element of interest to a shape that might not otherwise be there.

3/4 view of a hoverfly

3/4 view stacked image of a hoverfly, made from 96 photos with no sub stacks, Zerene Stacker Dmap and Pmax combined, finished off with CS4, NoiseNinja & Topaz Detail. Step size of 75μm, polystyrene chip cone diffuser. Resized 50% to reduce noise. Componon 28 f/4 reversed on slightly extended bellows so about 2:1 ish; 3 flashes @1/16 perpendicular @2 &10 o'clock, @1/32 perpendicular @6 o'clock.

Lighting any subject just from the front will completely eliminate the shadows, leaving features looking flat and uninteresting.

Not only that but you may also end up casting distracting shadows on your backdrop.

3/4 Views with Insects

To me, a nice 3/4 view of an insects adds a bit more personality than clinically straight on or from the side.

Letting a bit of the body show gives much of a 3D effect, so gives the viewer more information about the subject that you're trying to show.