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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.

Mario Testino

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With hints of oranges and apples, our Sienna pairs perfectly with lobster tropical salad this #FineFoodFriday... http://t.co/GKiwue0tqk

27 Feb 15
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Join @AmericanPhoto for a behind the scenes look at our specially created #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino Edition... http://t.co/wCF3fqRcYk

26 Feb 15
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Today we dedicate #WhiskyWednesday to @GWR 'most expensive whisky ever sold at auction', The Macallan M 6-litre... http://t.co/nn9weuLvQ6

25 Feb 15
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This #FineFoodFriday we've paired our rich Ruby with pork loin, Angolian vegetables and old mustard sauce... http://t.co/aKRlf9T89X

20 Feb 15
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Happy #ChineseNewYear! @MaryinVancity has all the inspiration you need to celebrate with The Macallan http://t.co/x0rh8JjmS8

19 Feb 15
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Today we focus on our sophisticated Fine Oak collection. Which expression is your favourite? http://t.co/bUFCMX8qFe

18 Feb 15
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#HappyValentinesDay Macallan fans! Now this is our idea of the perfect pair...Photo via @_Bjornus http://t.co/qIVT8bLcLC

14 Feb 15
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.@Spirit_Speyside tickets are selling in record breaking time, find out more about our coveted tours here: http://t.co/mGj5JWzywW

13 Feb 15
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Looking for Valentine's Day inspiration? Our aroma candles, created with @RojaDove, are perfect for your loved one... http://t.co/RAUMWA1Mhu

12 Feb 15
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Our 12 Years Old was included in @drinkmemag's top 10 whiskies of 2014. Which Macallan dram was your favourite? http://t.co/tOBBJOfbKp

06 Feb 15
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Journey through our dark & complex whiskies within our 1824 Masters Series with @RobbReport http://t.co/vUbjWUVLir http://t.co/JrpGBlM6Vm

05 Feb 15
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This #WhiskyWednesday we're toasting our perfectly crafted M, created from the rarest whiskies at our distillery... http://t.co/RqirLtqqVH

04 Feb 15
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This #FilmFriday, join us as we look back at the glamourous #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino launch in NYC http://t.co/d04gyaOPUd

30 Jan 15
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'Catch it while you can'. Discover our #MacallanMasters of Photography:@MarioTestino edition via @Forbes http://t.co/1Fnv7wMcbT

29 Jan 15
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With a rush of ginger and nutmeg, we’re serving up the rich Macallan Ruby this #WhiskyWednesday... http://t.co/bBY0iClLfw

28 Jan 15
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Happy #BurnsNight! What better way to celebrate than with a dram of Scotland’s very own #TheMacallan... http://t.co/IdpW9oo9d6

25 Jan 15
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Join @GiveTruly as they sit down with Ken Grier to find out more about the upcoming Ultimate Dinner @CanRocaCeller: http://t.co/eTHkQaPSrF

22 Jan 15
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We’re appreciating our deliciously smooth 12 Years Old this #WhiskyWednesday. Which Macallan dram are you savouring? http://t.co/deNBMrWXc3

21 Jan 15
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Congratulations @derekmcnulty & @chrisweston, you have both won a pair of VIP tickets to @LondonArtFair. Please DM us your email address

20 Jan 15
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We'll be @LondonArtFair, to celebrate we’re offering 2 followers the chance to win 2 VIP tickets. RT to win [UK ONLY] http://t.co/xTdBm3lkkx

19 Jan 15
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Join @TimeforWhisky for an inside look at the Hong Kong launch of our Masters of Photography @MarioTestino edition http://t.co/YjjsZcmLQH

16 Jan 15
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Today, we invite you to ‘Meet the Master’ behind the lens of #MacallanMasters of Photography 5, @MarioTestino: http://t.co/5A1s5Lff4r

15 Jan 15
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Why not savour The Macallan with friends this #WhiskyWednesday? @Photoadams24 enjoyed our Select Oak... http://t.co/CZeIkDCkKk

14 Jan 15

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Jordi Roca

Josep Roca

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

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