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Photography In Scotland (Tips, Tricks, And How To Be Ready)

AYankInScotlandAYankInScotland Member ✭✭
edited May 2018 in General Discussion

We’ve got a lovely thread called “Driving in Scotland” (which I hope becomes a “sticky” someday) and I thought I’d start a new thread on photography. Who doesn’t love coming home with a few great photos that share your magical Scottish experiences?

Photographers – please add to this thread, amateur or professional. Let’s make this a “braw” topic, and maybe a sticky someday!

As a side note, I make part of my living in the US as a portrait photographer, and photography teacher – and teaching others is a special thing for me. Photography (or any art) is gift that is meant to be passed along to others. That’s how we enrich the world. Art is love. 


  • It doesn’t matter if you a DSLR (digital single reflex) shooter or a Smartphone shooter, it rains a LOT in Scotland, so protecting your gear is job number one. The rain often blows sideways.
  • Have a good, strong, small umbrella (with a push button) that you can use when exiting the vehicle.
  • Plastic bags (or disposable shower caps) are a must, to protect the gear.
  • Consider bringing some silica jell bags with you, to dry equipment out at night. Keeping your gear dry is the most important task.


  • Walk out the door every day with a fully recharged battery and memory card.
  • Backup everything every night to the cloud, a USB stick, or a laptop.
  • Start each day fresh and clean.


  • Photography = The Study Of Light
  • Check your sunrise/sunset times because they will be earlier than what you have at home.
  • Scotland is at a higher latitude, so the “sweet light” may be a lot different than you think.
  • Diehards that want the Northern lights need to Google the particulars on that. There are lots of links. Just search for “Scotland Northern Lights”. Typically you need to be up in the Orkneys (or Shetlands) for that sort of light.


  • Yes, a wide angle lens (16m – 14mm) will give you lovely shots, especially in a place like Glencoe. Fog, clouds, moving light – it’s amazing.
  • If you only have a lens that only gives you 18 – 24 mm, that’s ok too – but consider trying a “pano stitch”. You’ll have to post process that in Lightroom/Photoshop.
  • If you are a smartphone shooter, don’t zoom in – shoot wide. Check your camera phone for a “pano” setting. Learn how to use that, and crop the photo.
  • Tripod – of course! I use a 22” unit that fits nicely in my carry-on luggage diagonally. Remote trigger a must.


  • Sure bring the big glass if you want, but I wouldn’t go past 300mm.
  • Most of the wildlife in Scotland isn’t “skittish” (maybe the stags), but puffins, squirrels, coos, and other animals will be easy to shoot at a semi-close range. Your 70 – 200mm will be fine.


  • Doesn’t matter what you are shooting with, but you are going to pick up a LOT of wind noise if someone is narrating. Especially near the coastlines (super windy).
  • Consider buying an external microphone with a “dead cat” (fuzzy wind-cover) for the microphone.


  • Your sweet spot will be Edinburgh and Glasgow, lots of candids and posed shots.
  • Scots are incredibly friendly, so push yourself outside of your comfort zone and ask for a photo. You might be surprised.


  • Try and leave that selfie stick at home. You’ll find lots of lovely people in Scotland that are happy to take your snap, and you’ll end up with a much better photo.
  • There are plenty of “dry bag” systems for smart phones that will suit you well. Just jump on to Amazon to find one.

I hope this was a good start to this thread, and I hope you all find the magic and love that comes through your camera lens.

Happy shooting!




World traveler, photographer, and humorist. I wrote an article called “26 Funny Observations about Scotland” in September of 2016, that was widely re-published. You can find it here on the Daily Record. You can also find me on Facebook Instagram


  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Awesome thread and wonderful tips (technical and otherwise) @AYankInScotland I am a super amateur photographer but there are 3 things that serve me well in my quest to capture the moments I will remember the most from a trip.
    1. My CaseLogic DSLR bag, it is water proof, holds my extra SD cards, a water bottle, a bottle of Smidge, my battery pack and USB cables. That is all the gear I carry (and hence none of my photos are shot in the dark)
    2. Location + Insider knowledge. I use Instagram a lot for inspiration for photo locations but the simple fact is that I carry my camera pretty much everywhere I'm walking about while in Scotland and some of my personal fave photos coincide with "bucketlist moment". All the popular locations will be busy, so insider knowledge is generally useful. I think there are a few threads discussing fave photo spots but I always ask locals when travelling what their faves are.
    3. This might be a public transport travel specific photo tip but I sit by a clean window and have a fast shutter speed setting on my cam just to take photos from a bus or a train whilst travelling. My wife taught me the right angles to minimize glare but you can get it right in a couple of attempts.
    Cannot wait to follow along in your adventures this trip @AYankInScotland :smile:
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • picturesofscotlandpicturesofscotland Member
    edited May 2018
    Great thread, and yes, Scotland has wonderful scenery - and challenging weather for the photographer.  I spent a whole day in a boat last week watching an Osprey flying overhead and diving for trout.  I had taken my 150 - 600 mm lens specifically to get some Osprey action shots - but it rained so hard all day that I didn't dare take the camera out, never mind point it up to the sky.
    Beaten by the weather again, but luckily if you live in Scotland, there's always another day - and on those rare days when the scenery, the weather and the wildlife all play ball, it's hard to beat!


  • AnniecdAnniecd Member
    First of all, thanks for all the great information! There's a lot of stuff that I didn't think of!!! I'm looking forward to a trip there in July! 
  • AYankInScotlandAYankInScotland Member ✭✭


    Great tip on having a weatherproof bag – that rocks! I like to use a Krumpler style messenger bag, and sling that over my head, then I sling the camera over my head and plop it in the messenger bag. If a shot comes up, all I have to do is lift the flap on the bag and pull out the camera. All is secure.

    Your tip on “Location + Insider Knowledge” was braw. I’m still pretty new to Instagram, and learning how to post and hashtag. I’m an old dog, but can still learn some new tricks!

    “Out Of The Window” shooting is the best, and I plan to try some time-lapse videos out the front window of the car later this month. Wish me luck!


    A 150-600? Goodness, I can only dream of that! Have you considered an underwater (scuba) housing for that? Just kidding, it would have to be the size of a doghouse.  

    You’ll get some lovely photos Annie, and enjoy your trip. I always ask my beginning photography students  what they would save if their house was burning down – and the answer is always the same. The kids, the pets, and the photo albumn. That’s the power of photography!

    World traveler, photographer, and humorist. I wrote an article called “26 Funny Observations about Scotland” in September of 2016, that was widely re-published. You can find it here on the Daily Record. You can also find me on Facebook Instagram

  • ShaunVlogShaunVlog Member ✭✭
    edited May 2018
    Best tip i can offer is genuinely always be ready. Scenery, nature and events can unfold so quickly, especially in the wilds of the Highlands and it can make all the difference in getting and missing the shot of a lifetime.
    Shaun - Scottish vlogger/content creator
    Check out my Scottish travel vlogs on YouTube: /shaunvlog
    and Instagram: @shaunvlog

  • AYankInScotlandAYankInScotland Member ✭✭

    Couldn't agree more Shaun. I always notice that when I do a walk-about with my beginner photography students, they constantly want to take the lens cap off and on again for every shot.

    I always tell them, once you step out the door - leave the lens cap OFF.

    If aliens land in Scotland for 30 seconds (in their flying saucer of course), and don't like the smell of good haggis - and leave quickly, you have missed the shot.    B)

    World traveler, photographer, and humorist. I wrote an article called “26 Funny Observations about Scotland” in September of 2016, that was widely re-published. You can find it here on the Daily Record. You can also find me on Facebook Instagram

  • AYankInScotlandAYankInScotland Member ✭✭
    Here’s the load-out for my May 23rd trip back to Scotland. 6 days and counting!

    As a challenge to myself - I'm going to just try using a smartphone + stabilizer. Mostly video, but a few stills. I bought an external microphone for the smartphone (I’ll be shooting with a Galaxy S8), so I could use a wind cover – that’s the big fuzzy thing on the right (what sound people call a “dead cat”). 

    Also scored a mosquito drone (lower right). It’s only got a range of 60 feet or so, but it shoots 1280x720p high definition video. May be too windy in most places, but we’ll see. Fingers crossed

    Bringing my old and faithful Canon G12 as a backup. Wish me luck!

    Oh, and if you run into me – I’ll give you a “Haste Ye Back” sticker. I designed it myself, and will be bringing 50 of them with me.   :)

    World traveler, photographer, and humorist. I wrote an article called “26 Funny Observations about Scotland” in September of 2016, that was widely re-published. You can find it here on the Daily Record. You can also find me on Facebook Instagram

  • ToomaTooma Member ✭✭
    Lots of good solid advice here. Cheers Chris, and others.
  • GlenMGlenM Member
    Some great info here - esp weather protecting your gear. I’ve got a new Canon M50 and I’m now searching for disposable shower caps!

    If you’re interested in information on how to find and shoot some of Scotland’s most iconic locations, as well as some little known ones, the guidebook “Photographing Scotland” is a great resource, right down to the GPS coordinates of the closest car park. It was four years in the making by Scottish professional photographer Dougie Cunningham of Glasgow. It breaks the country into regions for easy planning and I plan to use it on my trip starting next week to Inverness and the Black Isle.
    I share my passion for Scotland through my podcast - Under The Tartan Sky
    Find me on Twitter Facebook Instagram
    Find the podcast on Twitter Facebook Instagram
  • ToomaTooma Member ✭✭
    edited August 2018
    That does sound like a great book to have, @GlenM . Cheers.
    Here is a link to a site, where info, and several pages from the book can be seen.

  • AslantaAslanta Member
    Hello! Thanks for all those useful tips! Does anyone know what's the best option to protect gear like quite heavy DSLR (canon 5DmIII) + sigma 35mm lens? I just don't know if the best will be to put some plastic bags and wrap the camera and the lens in it or maybe somebody has got more reliable method... I go to Highlands late October/November so I prepare for a LOT of rain ;) 
  • VisitScotlandAmandaVisitScotlandAmanda Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Hello @Aslanta I'm just going to tag @eilidh__cameron @Lochgmarcp @AlistairHorne into this thread for you as they're local photographers who are likely to have experienced protecting their equipment in the rain. I'm sure one of them will be able to help you! 
    Kiwi gal, relocated to Scotland. 
  • LochgmarcpLochgmarcp VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Hi @Aslanta

    Beautiful time of year to visit, but yeah rain may be a bit of an issue! You can get camera and lens covers for your specific camera model, they still allow you to attach to a tripod or monopod, but are quite bulky and expensive! Plastic bags are a quick and easy option but can be awkward to access functions and the likes! I’m pretty sure your DSLR is a weather tight model, so mainly you’ll be wanting to keep the lens itself dry.. fairly difficult task but I normally just have a lot of lens cloths with me to dry the lens between shots! Using an umbrella for the quick snaps is handy enough or if I’m waiting longer for some nice light I have a lightweight pop up shelter in my backpack just incase! 

    Hope me that helps a little and hope you have a great trip :smile: @lochgmarcp
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