Why visit Scotland?
Simply put, it is utterly breath-taking. Scotland has a long history of defending itself from anyone seeking to occupy its isolated reaches. Fortunately in this day and age, they are more welcoming to visitors and even on the briefest of trips you will discover why they have been so fiercely protective.
The obvious benefit to photographers that Scotland has over other locations is the easy access to the outdoors. Locals may offer different opinions, but Scotland is reasonably well connected provided you leave any time-constraints at home. Access to landscape and wildlife photography opportunities is generous, especially if based out of Glasgow or Inverness. Bus and train options are aplenty and Scotland is very used to backpackers, cyclists, hitchhikers and road-trippers. To put it in perspective, it takes 2½ hrs by train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh are only an hour apart, and it’s possible to cycle from Ullapool to Oban in 4 days without pushing yourself.
Scotland also provides significant other opportunities to photographers including a vibrant music scene and passionate football rivalries in Glasgow, a savvy and artistic Edinburgh, and the historic flair of highland game season in the North East.
You won’t run out of things to do and photograph, so the only real question is… Where to start? Here are a couple of options...
Bow Fiddle Rock is located in the North East ofScotland just next to a small town called Portknockie. It is not on the usual tourist route (apparent from the lack of facilities in the village) but it is possible to take a bus to the nearby Cullen and walk along the coast. Cullen itself is worth a visit on it's own.
The infamous Falkirk Wheel has been photographed from many directions and in all conditions and rightfully so. It's as intoxicating to photograph as a marvel of engineering. However it is also a popular tourist destination due to it's proximity to Edinburgh and Glasgow!
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It isn't the perfect location for sunrise or sunset, but you're more likely to get light hitting the rock during sunrise. It's worth looking up the tide times before you head out as well as the obvious choice is to take a long exposure with the waves hitting the well placed guiding rocks in the foreground.
If you're in search of a bite to eat after a morning of taking photos, I highly recommend the Clubhouse for the Cullen Bay golf course. After taking the Aberdeen Shutterguide club to Portknockie, they were kind enough to lay out a beautiful Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.
Bus Route 35 from Inverness or Aberdeen
As with many photographic locations, your best bet is in bad weather or sunrise/sunset. One of the best photographs that most tourists miss is from the top of the wheel where the "canal" meets the ground. The still water and circular frames are a great option for reflections. The view is impressive as well.
So I challenge all of you to try and find a novel way to show the wheel!