Scotland surely is one of the most picturesque places in the world – rugged mountain ranges, almost Caribbean-looking stretches of white sandy beach, medieval architecture and lots of street art; just to name a few photogenic highlights in Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Highlands and beyond. But what if the inevitable bad weather rolls in? This guide sums up my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!

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It’s easy to take photos of the incredible beauty that is Scotland in the sun – suddenly all the colours pop, the hills look even more majestic and the grey medieval rock looks great against the azure blue sky. But let’s be honest, Scotland is not particularly famous for its long, sunny summers. On the contrary, Scottish weather has kind of a well-deserved reputation, and unless you are incredibly lucky, you will probably have to make it through at least one rainy day during your stay in Scotland.

That’s just the way it is, and to be honest, it’s one of the things that makes Scottish landscapes look so mystical. But what about your photos?

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Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!
Dramatic clouds along the West Highland Way.

Taking great photos when the sky is glaring white, or the rain is so heavy it splashes on your lens is really difficult. It’s darker when it rains, which means it’s harder to get sharp images. It’s like the weather drains the world of colour, and all of a sudden, even the lush green forest looks like a grey mass. Not to mention the fear of ruining your camera!

Here are my top 7 photography tips for bad weather in Scotland – but really they apply to any other location as well!

1) Shoot (or edit) in black and white

While editing your photos to black & white is usually a stylistic decision, it can be a lifesaver if you return from a rainy trip to Scotland. While the rain makes everything look grey and lifeless, changing pictures to black & white can bring a lot of energy back into your composition. All of a sudden the contrasts are back and your photos gain a certain kind of artsy edge.

Try to photograph details that lend themselves to contrasts, such as dark objects in front of bright skies, hilly landscapes with great depth of field or people.

I tried this lifesaving technique after returning from a day trip to Fife and love how my photos turned out despite the rain!

Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!
On a recent Outlander trip to Fife. It had just stopped raining, but the sky was brutally white!

2) Make rain the subject of your photo

Find raindrops on flowers, leaves or bushes; catch the reflection of a beautiful landmark in a puddle; take a funny rain selfie; let your brolly (Scottish for umbrella) peek into your frame; or photograph the raindrops on your window. The ideas are endless!

Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!
Raindrops falling into the Fairy Pools (Isle of Skye).

3) Use the bad weather as a backdrop

Sometimes – in Scotland more often than anywhere I’ve ever traveled – you get to experience all four seasons in one day. The good thing about this is that there are high chances of sun and rain appearing at the same time. That means that only half the sky is cloudy and dull – make use of this contrast and use the dramatic rain skies as a backdrop for an incredible photo shoot!

Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!
Dramatic skies in Shetland – mere minutes before heavy rain hit the coast!

4) Avoid the sky

Sometimes there’s just no better way to deal with a glaring white sky than to avoid it. Find interesting details to focus on and try to chose compositions that have as little sky as possible in the frame.

5) Find specs of colours

If you simply can’t find a possibility to get the shots you want without the sky in it, or if anything in your frame just looks dull – find specs of colour to include in your composition!

You could photograph colourful street art, shop fronts, flower pots or old-timer cars. OR you could make your life much easier by carrying a spec of colour with yourself. This could be a brolly in a pop colour or simply your outfit.

Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!
Street art in Glasgow on a drizzly day.

One note on colour coordination: outfit colours that are complimentary with Scottish landscapes are your best friend – red during the summer, when the Highlands are green; bright blue during the rest of the year, when the hills are of a yellowish/orange colour, and yellow if you travel here during purple Heather season (August).

6) Photograph people

Photographing people allows you to naturally all of the above tips – portraits look great in black & white, your subject can do something funny with the rain like jump in a puddle, you can use the bad weather as a backdrop, you can avoid the sky, and depending on their outfit, the person can be your spec of colour.

Plus you will have lovely photos of your friends or of locals who will forever remind you of the people you met in Scotland!

Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!
Rain and mist hiding the Isle of Kerrara in the bay of Oban.

7) Protect your camera

The last of my photography tips is to protect your camera. While your camera will most likely not immediately die if it gets drizzled on a little, it will certainly not survive a Scottish shower.

A rain cover for your camera can be a life-saver, especially if you want to set up shots with a tripod or don’t want to put your camera away after every single photo. I tend to bring my lens hoods on rainy days for a little extra splash protection and a microfibre towel (like the ones you use to clean glasses or sunnies) is a staple if you want to wipe down your lens without scratching it!

In general I suggest bringing a waterproof bag for your trip to Scotland, so that your camera (and all other things) stay dry while they’re stored away.

A dry bag can give additional security if you take your camera on a hike or walk!

Have you ever struggled with bad weather on a trip to a photogenic place like Scotland? What are your top bad weather photography tips? Would love to hear about them in the comments!

Scotland is one of the most picturesque countries. But what if the bad weather rolls in? Here I share my top 7 bad weather photography tips for Scotland!

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35 thoughts on “7 Bad Weather Photography Tips for Scotland

  1. Bea Adventurous says:

    Really helpful tips Kathi!

    Yes, Scotland definitely isn’t known for its sunny days and I’ve been caught in the rain a couple of times on my travels there!

    Thank you for the tips to get the most out of the rainy days!

  2. Chiera says:

    Very handy tips! Feeling a bit stupid that I’ve never thought about the ‘avoid the sky’ one. What a good way to get a nice bright picture of an otherwise dull scene! Thank you 🙂 x

    • Kathi says:

      It’s not always easy though – sometimes you just really want that landscape shot and then it’s tricky to avoid the sky… But it works and in the end I always like those detail shots better than the landscape shots I take despite the white sky!

  3. Daniela says:

    I live in Scotland, and as an avid photographer I struggle with bad weather all the time 🙂 Always carry a dry bag with you in Scotland, even on sunny days, as the weather can be very unpredictable.

  4. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much!! This is so helpful. I love Scotland and cannot wait to return and will use these tips when the weather is not so nice. Thanks for the help!!

  5. C-Ludik says:

    Great tips which can be used in other rainy & foggy destinations as well ! I’ll keep in mind the way to deal with a glaring white sky… Just avoid it ! And I also like the tip about using the bad weather as a backdrop. I never thought about finding raindrops on flowers, leaves or bushes or to catch the reflection in a puddle 🙂

  6. Tracy says:

    What great tips! I will be sure to use these the next time I visit any destination that has rain for days, since most of my trips tend to have some crazy weather!

    • Kathi says:

      It’s not always easy – and when it’s raining really heavily, I still struggle a lot… But then, I just go coffee shop hopping and take photos of that 😀

  7. Eva says:

    Haven’t visited Scotland yet, but I’ve been experiencing many of these problems in Norway and Iceland. My favourite way to get around dull landscapes is definitely by turning the picture black and white. I took a photo of the Norwegian fjords in less than perfect weather, but the cloudy sky and the black mountain once turned to black and white proved much much more majestic and definitely not dull.
    White skies are a real pain, they mess up the overall exposure also. But there’s something good about overcast skies with milky light everywhere that makes portrait photography a bliss: the total absence of shadows! So there’s awesomeness in bad weather, too, also for photographers 😀

  8. Brianna says:

    Awesome tips! Definitely useful for Scotland, and other destinations that see a lot of grey and rainy weather. I think having a higher-quality camera definitely helps too.

  9. Penny says:

    I always have a bad time photographing things when the weather isn’t particularly sunny. These tips are great for other locations too. I do hope i will get to see Scotland some day. 🙂

  10. Zara says:

    Bad weather can be so disappointing from a photography point of view, but it’s so true that you can also use it to your advantage if you are creative! I love black and white images with high contrast for dramatic images that make the most of wet weather! Great tips. It’s always good to be prepared.

  11. Kate says:

    Thankfully my camera is weather proof, the lenses, not so much! Dry bags and micro fibre cloths are my saviours when up a mountain in the pouring down rain! I think Scotland looks stunning in all weathers – and the clouds make for a great photo, especially when they are just touching the tops of the hills!

    • Kathi says:

      Absolutely – there’s something so mystical about the Scottish mountains; I don’t think you could capture that on a clear blue sunny day!

    • Kathi says:

      Oh yes, what a grand piece of advice! If you don’t mind, I’ll add it to the main body of the blogpost! I also tend to bring my lens hoods on rainy days for some additional splash protection!

  12. Annika says:

    Awesome tips! I must definitely remember them as I am heading to the Maldives now in rainy season and guess they apply not only for Scotland. Thanks for sharing and beautiful pictures as always, Kathi!

    • Kathi says:

      Definitely – the tips should work for any other destination too! Can’t wait to see your photos from the Maldives!!

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