Gotham TV show ad

How did they achieve the look of this ad? it looks like they overlay'd a light layer grunge-styled texture, masked the main image over the clouds, and added some kind of gritty noise overall, while touching up the original portrait images? Would the color level adjustments be tuned to a more neutral tone, while the contrast got pumped up? Would like to learn how they achieved this look and perhaps apply some of its principles to my work.

  • try and find an image of a similar pose and play about in Photoshop with the techniques you just said and see what results you get.
    – SaturnsEye
    Sep 25, 2014 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


Both the photography itself and the majority of the processing are straight from the Joel Grimes playbook. You can catch the gist of things in the B&H Event Space video "Building the Dramatic Portrait with Joel Grimes". But to summarize:

The subject photography is a three-light setup, with two gridded kickers (one to either side) and a small source above camera in front. The taped-off small gridded reflector example in the video is closest to what's happened here; the light is less wide than the subjects' faces. If you're using speedlights rather than studio flash or "hot" lights, then a small on-camera-type softbox diffuser will make the flash about the right size. You're looking for something five to six inches across (12 to 15cm). There is a relatively large reflector card (well, wide at any rate, there probably isn't much room for depth) just below the frame.

Processing consists mostly of blending a colour and a B&W development of the same image and applying curves to taste. (Open the image as a Smart Object, Copy via Smart Object, take the copied SO back into ACR to make it monochrome and further adjust contrast.) Alternatively, you can use Nik Color Efex Pro or Topaz Labs Adjust to reduce saturation, increase contrast and grungify, but at an extra cost (and an extra dependency). The images are composites, of course, with the background shot (or created) separately. And yes, there is an overlay to add grit in these pictures.

  • 1
    ... but.. but.. my iPhone camera has no lighting options. Do I need to download a "three light" app or something??? :)
    – Scott
    Sep 26, 2014 at 12:59

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