A Shropshire Artist Take On Photoshop

If weddings are my heart, then this, truly, is my soul.


I absolutely love this area, it is but a short walk from my home, and is a place I find utterly captivating…no matter the time of the year. It is a stretch of canal that runs parallel to the beautiful Blakemere. 

An Artists Work In Shropshire

I originally posted this in reply to a comment on facebook in regards to how I work….the word “photoshop” was used, on it’s own…without context….so I thought it helpful to those wondering “how” I create these images, to post my reply in plain sight, it proved useful, so naturally I thought I’d pop it here on my blog for the wider world to see 🙂

I do hope you guys find this useful, and please,….do feel free to ask any questions.

It starts with the weather forecast and ends with a “Save”!

It has to be said “Photoshopped” is such a widely used, and throw away term…so the true answer to the question of using photoshop, is both yes, and no.
When film was used in photography the photographer would pick a certain film for a certain look. The image would also be affected by both the lens…and any filters..that were used, on that lens.

In essence the photographer used their vision to expand what was before their eyes. To see..into the image so to speak. This is about being creative..using the available tools, lens, camera and filters, to enhance a scene, and so to realise their vision.

Fast forward to today….and nothing has really changed.

Ellesmere canal in Shropshire.

Firstly you see the scene and select the appropriate lens/focal length and expose for that scene…in my case, I always expose for the highlights. This helps to create a much darker frame to use. I will also “bracket” the scene for shadow recovery. Again something that was used widely in the days of film..perhaps more so back then…so this is truy old school techniques.

Once I have that scene is then into the dark room…for that truly is what post processing is all about. It’s a digital equivalent of chemicals and laboratory processes. Certain tools in PhotoShop and Lightroom get their names from techniques of old. Dodging and burning being two such examples.

In Lightroom I adjust the colour balance and white balance to that of a more pleasing appearance. The camera sees in shades of grey….so it’s tendency I find is to go “cooler” rather than “warmer”. So again…old school lab techniques. I like to use around 6400 Kelvin…which is a nice warming tone. This helps bring out the leaves for example, this can also be set in camera, though I do tend to leave mine on auto white balance.

A lone walker out for a stroll along the Ellesmere canal in Shropshire.

Once I have lovingly folded in the shadow areas and raised the highlights a little (dodging and burning) I then export the resulting file and only then do we go into photoshop.
Here I remove signs…litter…people even, if they are not part of the intended result. You may be surprised to know this could also be done with film..and was done as far back as the 1930’s! Earlier even…some very famous images had elements removed to help the “narrative”.

Once I have done this…I do some final adjustments to the composition of light and shade…this is where my love of chiaroscuro comes in….think Rembrandt…that gorgeous use of deep resonating shade…with beautiful spots of light. In all my work…this is so relevant.

Another fellow photographer out and about capturing images along the Ellesmere canal in Shropshire.

Finally I look at the overall image. Often creating a copy and flipping it upside down…why? Because it’s like seeing an image for the first time…and anything I have missed will suddenly be very obvious.

I then slightly adjust the overall saturation in a few choice areas, just to make it “pop” a little . It is then saved….and onto the next one.

The truth is…I am combining old school techniques with modern technology. Something I have lovingly crafted over many many years. To simply say “photoshopped” is to dismiss many years of skill…of patience and dedication.

A log burner strikes up on a frosty morning. 

So please understand this…there is no magic button, no instant “art” action….nothing you see here is done via a “recipe” in a workflow.
It starts with the weather forecast and ends with a “Save”!

Everything in between is meticulously planned. I know these canals so well…I already had these images in my mind for absolutely ages.

All I had to do was wait.


If you would like to know more about my services please do feel free to get in touch. CONTACT

In the meantime, here are a few more recent images from my frosty, “selfish” frames 🙂

Phil Barrett
Phil Barrett

Phil Barrett is a seasoned photographer with a rich background in creativity. Starting his journey as an illustrator and designer, Phil's work graced the greeting cards of some of the world's largest producers. After two decades in the industry, a twist of fate led him back to university, where he founded PbArtWorks, initially envisioned as a design and photography agency. However, it was his unique approach to wedding photography, characterized by its natural, unforced essence, that truly resonated. For over a decade, Phil has captured weddings across Shropshire, Cheshire, North Wales, and beyond. Beyond weddings, Phil's passion for photography is evident in his leisurely strolls around his town, capturing its scenic beauty. Whether through pen, brush, camera, or lens, Phil's ultimate goal remains consistent: to create beautiful imagery that brings joy to people. His mantra? "Good enough is never good enough."

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  1. Hi Phil
    4th picture down what size print could I get it in please, looking at replacing my other print you did for me, that is 16 by 23 I think. How much would it be? Using the black Friday code also.

  2. Hi, my daughter says that she was in touch with you a while back. She is interested in wedding photography and has said that you offer courses (online?). Please could you advise. Thank you Debbie

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