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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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The Macallan

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Introducing The Macallan glass by @LALIQUE - discover more on our new nosing & tasting glass http://t.co/xT2ZGrehOW http://t.co/AWXJ3f3qzv

21 Nov 14

The Macallan glass by Lalique

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#TBT to a behind the scenes shot of our Sherry Oak 12 Years Old on set with Mario Testino for #MacallanMasters http://t.co/ypTbYZsbep

20 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

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RT @stevebooker: Here's my last shot from @The_Macallan Instagram takeover, I hope you guys have enjoyed it! http://t.co/pUpzyLV6zT http://…

13 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

@stevebooker

RT @stevebooker: New image on @The_Macallan feed, go give it a like. The Tasting Experience was incredible. http://t.co/bW8lUHkJR7" target="_blank">http://t.co/bW8lUHkJR7 http://t

12 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

@stevebooker

RT @stevebooker: My third shot is now up on the @The_Macallan feed, check it out. Can you believe this room?! http://t.co/BkIggQMdH5 http:/…

12 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

@stevebooker

RT @stevebooker: My second shot is now up on @The_Macallan Instagram go and take a look. http://t.co/cFKSuUkPP8 http://t.co/hVbaEIgCDI

12 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

@stevebooker

RT @stevebooker: Guys, go and check out my first image over on @The_Macallan instagram! http://t.co/g0GFAVGYWj http://t.co/vVYgtF1YBR

12 Nov 14
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Roja Dove

@RojaDove

RT @RojaDove: I can't wait to lose myself in the multisensory worlds of @The_Macallan & @mariotestino tonight @theritzlondon #MacallanMaste

12 Nov 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

With layer upon layer of character & flavour our #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino edition is an exquisite whisky http://t.co/5sO9DrVTpe

06 Nov 14
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@the_macallan

As November nights roll in, we’ll be savouring the nutmeg and ginger notes of Sienna. What’s your winter warmer dram? http://t.co/Wblj4IhDRL

05 Nov 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

The Macallan Blood & Sand, an absolute treat of a cocktail...Happy Halloween! http://t.co/PFNtHZU0DF http://t.co/u1DhJloRj3

31 Oct 14
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Happy Birthday @MarioTestino! We are honoured to have collaborated with you in your 60th year – Sláinte! http://t.co/wMAih6rP6s

30 Oct 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

This #WhiskyWednesday is a celebration of spice & dried fruit - discover No.6 housed in a stunning @Lalique decanter http://t.co/YTqewtuYMZ

29 Oct 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

Today’s #WhiskyWednesday is a true reflection of our natural colour & sherry oak casks. The Macallan Reflexion... http://t.co/iBaJd6fDUj

22 Oct 14
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WWD JAPAN

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RT @wwd_jp: 重要なのは"飲むシーン"、究極のラグジュアリーウイスキー「ザ・マッカラン」の魅力に迫る @The_Macallan @rinko_kikuchi #luxy http://t.co/MR4xpeLQoG http://t.co/s5owWBYS5I

20 Oct 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

Join us in Tokyo in this exclusive film from #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino launch in @andaztokyo #マッカラン http://t.co/ecF4tME7T9

16 Oct 14
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FASHION HEADLINE

@FASHIONHL

RT @FASHIONHL: マリオ・テスティーノがマッカラン携えて来日しました。とても美味しいウイスキーでしたhttp://t.co/KnjjIAMmWs #マッカラン http://t.co/qpiLzqyjZE

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