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Albert is an extraordinary master craftsman

Notes of a photographic journey in Spain, from Jerez to Santander

We challenged ourselves to make The Macallan Masters of Photography Edition 2 quite different from the Rankin Edition, and so we were delighted to give this project to Albert Watson to be shot in a very filmic way with a fine art dimension.

Following the journey of our exceptional oak casks from the cool forests of northern Spain, to the baking heat of our cooperage in Jerez, then to the magnificence of the Highlands of Scotland, ending up at the holy grail that is The Macallan Estate was always going to be a challenge; but telling an art noire story of discovery and effectively shooting an exhibition of fine art prints has been mind bogglingly difficult.

Arriving in Jerez last Sunday with a crew of 14 plus 27 equipment cases was already a logistical challenge, but each location had its own issues to be overcome.

Albert is an extraordinary master craftsman, with an uncanny, rapid and decisive eye for a shot, but most importantly the skill to almost paint with light that is a forgotten art. As we sped around the Spanish countryside with what was effectively a studio to be packed and unpacked at each location, it was a marvel to see the speed and precision at which he worked.

The cooperage, with its open fires and at times fog of sawdust and wood shavings, all in an outside temperature of 41 degrees, required supreme concentration and resolve from the sweat stained crew and models to get the desired result. All with the mantra of Albert looking for singular shots and not just shooting documentary footage.

The attempt to find vineyard locations was a physical challenge of dusty roads, furnace-like heat and disappointment, as our preferred location had dug up its vines two weeks before, rendering it useless. Ultimately, late in the afternoon on the second day we drove over a hill to see the perfect location and gorgeous light, and suddenly everything fell into place.

The contrast of asking the local zoo and botanical park to open up in the early morning, so that we could shoot the perfect tree, next to the White Tiger and peacock enclosures added an almost surreal and comic element to the proceedings.

Running out of time and searching determinedly with this vigorous and indefatigable genius for a moody shot in the cool, dark bodegas of Gonzalez Byass required stamina and skill to avoid the early summer tourists in our way. Once discovered, the ability to set up a romantic and cinematic shot with our hero and heroine, lit with Rembrandt like skill was astonishing.

The skilful management of a big crew, to keep their energy up and to get them on their game in seconds to execute a precise fine art shot was a skill in itself.

All the time the self imposed pressure was on our behind the scene film crew and me to tell the story of this remarkable undertaking in a way that no one has ever done before. Using real time documentary by producing a video blog every 2 days, a gallery of photographs daily and also to share via Twitter and audioboo sound bites of the action and tying it all together in a live gps map resulted in lots of action but little sleep.

The north of Spain, in the form of Santander, saw a cooler environment with a richness of textures and people but the problem of how to light a large dark sawmill and make it interesting. Glorious forest vistas were selected but then disaster as a cold weather front from the Atlantic brought leaden skies and chilling drizzle.

We returned the next day to a different climate from the baking heat of southern Spain. It took all of Albert's years of skill, in lighting, composition and perspective to escape with the bare minimum of shots needed for this part of our photographic journey.

And so, after six months planning, the Spanish leg of our trip is over and we have enough shots to tell the story of our art noire, evocative road trip and, just as importantly, the precious fine art shots for our exhibition.

Then the long journey from Santander to Elgin, arriving exhausted at 1am but up with the lark to see what the Scottish part of our journey brings. Keep reading to find out.

The Masters of Photography: Mario Testino Edition

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RT to #win tickets to the London film premiere of Silent Storm, supported by @007 producer Barbara Broccoli [UK ONLY]

09 Oct 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Today we’re toasting Rare Cask. This exquisite whisky offers notes of dried fruits & treacle http://t.co/V2gjrDuhTy

08 Oct 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Our #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino Edition is created from 6 specially selected unique casks http://t.co/2k7807VTJN

01 Oct 14
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The final instalment in our #MacallanMasters of Photography throwback is #Erwitt. He captured our home beautifully... http://t.co/MwE1tGap4M

30 Sep 14
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Today we look back at #MacallanMasters of Photography 3, which featured actor @TheRealKMcKidd shot by @annieleibovitz http://t.co/RPx10PHBlo

29 Sep 14
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One of the world’s largest collections of The Macallan Fine and Rare whiskies fetched US$431,322 @zachysauctions http://t.co/Y7s3PszLDv

27 Sep 14
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Today we look back at #MacallanMasters of Photography 2 Albert Watson who depicted the epic journey of our oak casks http://t.co/X4RQZUNcZ3

26 Sep 14
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In anticipation of Masters of Photography 5, feast your eyes on our 1st series by @rankinphoto #MacallanMasters http://t.co/oU9ZzLYyXQ

25 Sep 14
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What would be your #FineFoodFriday pairing? @LAubergeBR enjoyed our 25 Years Old Sherry Oak with a succulent steak... http://t.co/aJPqmtRyRp

19 Sep 14
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Today we unveil Rare Cask, Reflexion & No.6. The 3 decanters, together with M, complete The 1824 Masters Series http://t.co/8s9zzms4mE

18 Sep 14

Introducing The 1824 Masters Series

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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Today we’re savouring Amber – can you detect the notes of vanilla & citrus? http://t.co/ipXUxgreij

17 Sep 14
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How does our most exclusive whiskies paired with a menu from @CanRocaCeller sound? Find out more via @Pursuitist http://t.co/101rGPCrLY

12 Sep 14
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Join @terroirgourmet and watch @mixxit_wayne’s master class in creating the classic Old Fashioned cocktail http://t.co/U4OnFlhltC

11 Sep 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Macallan fan @ariarevyan captured our 12 Years Old in #Chicago - where do you enjoy a dram? http://t.co/smELQ7AhNW

10 Sep 14
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This #FineFoodFriday we’re pairing ceviche of Scottish salmon with orange & fennel with Sienna http://t.co/l7JWGl4kd4

05 Sep 14
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This #FineFoodFriday we’re pairing ceviche of Scottish salmon with orange & fennel with Sienna http://t.co/tHtE9KBrY7

05 Sep 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Discover this stunning drawing created by artist, Monica Lee featuring The Macallan... http://t.co/6wEoQnqlOR

03 Sep 14
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Our 25 Years Old Fine Oak contains intense fruity notes. Discover more about this rich dram via @drinkdistiller http://t.co/G6tckR4vAC

29 Aug 14
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The Macallan continues to be one of the most sought after whiskies at auction, discover more via @McTears http://t.co/F3SWtQ0MPl

28 Aug 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Today we're celebrating our smooth & sweet 12 Years Old Sherry Oak. Image via @LifestyleAsia http://t.co/MiXEjt850r

27 Aug 14
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Indulge in the ultimate dining experience with @CanRocaCeller & @The_Macallan. Find out how via @givetruly http://t.co/xeD9KPbSCc

22 Aug 14
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Discover which of our exquisite 1824 Series whiskies came out on top at @KensingtonWM’s blind tasting http://t.co/5ZHxAfJvPC

21 Aug 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Which Macallan dram do you enjoy on a summer's night? Discover @tonightsdram savouring Gold http://t.co/saLYwyIqOe

20 Aug 14

EXPANSION AT THE HOME OF THE MACALLAN

The Macallan Lifestyle Lounge Launches in Harrods

Jordi Roca

Josep Roca

Joan Roca

Behind the scenes at El Celler De Can Roca

The Winners

El Celler de Can Roca

The Shortlist

The Macallan Attends SXSWi

Masters of Photography: Master Class

The Macallan’s characters captured continued...

The Macallan’s characters captured

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Sean Lee-Davies captures the character of Hong Kong

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The Macallan Masters of Photography: Elliott Erwitt Edition LA launch

The Macallan Masters of Photography: Elliott Erwitt Edition

Lalique 62

Introducing The Macallan in Lalique V: The Spiritual Home

The Macallan M Liquid

UK Launch of M Decanter

Explore the Macallan I am of legal drinking age in my country

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