The ManhatTron Project

The ManhatTron Project

On a hot afternoon in July I found myself in New York with a couple of hours to kill between photoshoots. So I went up all 102 floors of the Empire State Building and enjoyed the view. It is rather spectacular. Even when repeatedly bumping shoulders on the observation deck with everyone else.

It was just after noon so the sun was beating mercilessly down on the observation deck and the assembled crowd through an almost cloudless sky. Despite this and the shoulder bumps, I opportunistically shot some of my all-time favourite images. This is why I am rarely without a camera.


People of a certain age will remember Tron. The original movie starred Jeff Bridges as a computer engineer pulled into the binary universe of a computer, and his heroic deeds to save it. The movie instantly became a cult classic that spawned a series of follow-up movies, and naturally several computer games.

It had a distinctive look. Using then state-of-the-art digital graphics to create the classic light cycle race and other scenes that many know and love to this day.

The digital universe centred around the MCP (Master Control Program) that doubled as the bad guy. It was also the interface between the digital and real worlds, sending data into the air as pulses of light in a stunning visualisation of the digital to analog conversion and transmission process. And the hero’s only way home. Which is where I got the idea for the ManhatTron Project.


The tower of Freedom One now stands proudly on Manhattan Island where the twin towers once stood. Built on the rubble of ground zero, Freedom One is by design the tallest building in the area, symbolizing the indomitable will of America and absolute unwavering refusal to give in to fear and tyranny. At least, any that comes from outside the USA. But let’s not get sidetracked. Point is.

It also makes a great MCP.

The ManhatTron Project

Taking my harsh noon image into Photoshop I went to work ‘Tronning’ it. I darkened the whole image to a dusk scene with a couple of adjustment layers, and colour graded everything to a soft midnight blue. Some preliminary dodging and burning added depth. Next, I worked outward to fade the lighting to bring focus onto the Freedom One tower (MCP), which I wanted to be the primary light source and focal point. I wanted this whole city landscape lit by this single tower.

I added vertical light beams to punch the data transmission up to the real world. Then I added my logo as rings along the beams to indicate a powerful directional data pulse. Careful use of blend modes helps the pulses interact very well with the clouds. Subtle, but really effective. A nice touch.

I added more adjustment layers, tweaking individual buildings and elements of the image. The final step was to add the text, for a movie poster vibe. And we’re done: The ManhatTron Project.

This print is now part of my movie poster collection and will also make it’s way into my portfolio case. And if you want a copy, I will be more than happy to make one for you. Any size you want. Let’s talk details. Get in touch.

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Prints available for all images by request.
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