Blog

5 things to consider when planning a photography trip to Scotland

5 things to consider when planning a photography trip to Scotland

The weather

Scotland's weather is infamous. Never mind 4 seasons in one day, you can get 4 seasons in an hour. The saying goes, if you don't like the weather, wait 5 mins. It's what makes the photographic opportunities so immense. The landscape is never quite the same from one hour to the next. Make sure you are prepared for the weather and bring adequate waterproofs for you and your camera. Or do what I do when the weather gets bad which is leave your camera in the car and use your mobile phone instead. The lens is smaller and easier to protect and it's much cheaper to buy weatherproof covers for the phone than it is for the DSLR. Check out this article for some phone camera tips. Alternatively, as above, wait 5 minutes. 

The road conditions and lack of 'stopping places'

Scotland is full of stop and get out of the car vistas. Unfortunately it's not full of stop and get out of the car parking places (same goes for 'rest stops', get used to alfresco peeing). Some places have lots, some don't. Some are passing places so you can't stop for any length of time. Find a safe place to stop, get your fitbit on and chalk up some steps. Due to the overwhelming urge to stop and take some pictures, you will find that journeys take much longer than expected. Also bear in mind, a highland mile is quite different to a 'normal mile". Well, not really, but check out this article for more information. 

The season

Each season in Scotland has its merits and drawbacks. Come in Spring and you will see an entirely different landscape to that of Autumn. It's part of what makes this place so captivating. Here's a breakdown of what to expect in each season.

Spring. The long dark nights are fading fast. Green is reappearing, spring-time bulbs are flowering. Although there may still be some snow on the hills, colour starts returning to the landscape. 

Summer. Vibrant greens, excessive foliage, long days that mean photography adventures can continue late into the evening. During the day, the sun is too high and direct to obtain much photographic wise but evenings can be delicious with beautiful, soft lighting, long, lazy sunsets, amazing seafood and lots of local festivals. Come late summer/ early Autumn and the hillsides will be tinged purple with Scottish heather.  If you are visiting a popular tourist area, you might want to leave it until another season to avoid the throngs of tourists (or just get up earlier/ go later to the most popular attractions.  

Autumn. My favourite season. The landscape changes hugely over the course of a few weeks. The lurid greens of summer give way to yellows, reds and burnt orange. Crisp, clear days create perfect photography conditions and if you are lucky all this colour might combine with a dusting of snow on the hills. 

Winter. My second favourite season. Could even be my first if it didn't go on so long. When the sun is out, it's golden hour all day long. Sunrise and sunset times are convenient for those who don't like getting up early/ staying up late. When the snow comes, it transforms the landscape into something quite magical. 

Tourist season

A season all of its own. Some places in Scotland get very busy at certain times. Hit the popular spots, like the Isle of Skye or Edinburgh, in summer and you are going to have to compete with a throng of tourists to get your picture. (I personally love Skye in Autumn and Winter. Beautiful light and empty landscapes). But you don't have to go far to move away from the throng. Choose a guide who will take you off the beaten track or do it yourself. Hire a car, take a picnic and get lost. It will probably lead to your most memorable images.

Your return trip

It can't be done in one trip. Not even a fraction of it. This might be a small country but it is big on cinematic and captivating landscapes and buzzing, vibrant cities. I live here, travel around the country regularly and still haven't seen a fraction of it. You will want to return.