As we know all too well at the Gallery, Scotland's landscapes and diverse wildlife are a paradise for photographers. From rugged mountains and stunning coastlines to the fascinating creatures that call this country home, Scotland offers a plethora of opportunities to capture nature at its finest. In this blog, we're going to take you through the essential camera equipment you need to capture excellent landscape and wildlife shots in Scotland, with some of Jack's recommendations to guide you!
Essential Photography Equipment For Landscapes & Wildlife
A Sturdy Camera Body
Starting with the foundation of your photography equipment, a reliable camera body is essential. Opt for a DSLR or mirrorless camera that offers high-resolution capabilities and good low-light performance. A weather-sealed body can be a bonus, given Scotland's unpredictable weather.
Jack's Essential: "As of 2023, I use a full frame digital interchangeable lens camera: the Sony A7RIV. In combo with other digital equipment, I'm able to use it remotely too with my aerial drone equipment (look out for a future drone-specific equipment blog)".
Invest in a variety of lenses to cover different aspects of Scottish photography. Wide-angle lenses are perfect for capturing sweeping landscapes, while a telephoto lens will help you get close to wildlife without disturbing them. Consider a prime lens for sharp and clear portrait shots of the local people or wildlife.
Jack's Essential: "I use a wide variety of lenses, the most important being a Tilt-Shift Lens".
A Tilt-Shift lens is ideal for shooting architecture or landscapes because you're able to reduce image distortion. This happens by adjusting the plane of focus and depth of field while keeping the image entering your camera centred, allowing you to take photos from what appear to be different vantage points without moving the camera body.
"When taking landscape images while it’s tempting to use a wide angle lens I actually will often try and get as far back as possible and use as narrow an angle lens as I can get away with so parts of the image don’t just appear so distant in the final image".
Speaking as locals, we know just how much rain and mist can be found in the Highlands. While it's something you learn to love (in a way), be prepared to get wet at some point. Jack's not a fan of covers however,
"I don’t use a rain cover for the camera. They get in the way and not much use in the wind. I would hide it under my jacket if I’m worried and unlikely the camera is out when it’s chucking it down anyway. Be sure the camera is kept from any torrential rain that could get in your backpack when hiking".
Extra Batteries and Memory Cards
Remember that plenty of our finest photography locations here in the Highlands are far from power outlets! Always carry spare batteries and memory cards, and back your photos up regularly during your trips.
Jack's Essential: "Invest in something from a reliable brand such as Sandisk or Lexar. And from a reputable camera shop because there’s lots of fakes out there. A high-speed card is important if you are taking a burst of images as otherwise the camera has to take time to transfer the data over before it can take the next picture. Or if you're recording hi-resolution HD or 4K footage".
To capture Scotland's landscapes with long-exposure shots or to ensure stability when using a telephoto lens, a sturdy tripod is a must. Make sure it's lightweight and easy to carry during your outdoor adventures.
Jack's Essential: "I currently use a beaten-up old Manfrotto tripod that’s probably 20-30 years old. It’s aluminium but you can get lighter ones these days made from carbon fibre if you want to invest in a good piece of kit."
And Jack's Top Advice...
"I love new gear as much as anyone else, but it’s likely that’s not even close to the biggest limiting factor for any of us with our photography. So much comes down to your techniques and theory of photography. It’s important to note this as camera manufacturers spend a lot of money trying to convince us otherwise!"