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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 Macallan Lifestyle Lounge Launches in Harrods

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Join mixologist @mixxit_wayne as he treats us to a master class in the art of making the classic Old Fashioned... http://t.co/RhK4bQaLrv

01 Aug 14
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Grab a dram and discover ‘The Macallan Master Distiller’, Russell Anderson, via @PlanetWhiskies http://t.co/Az3SEMZuA6

31 Jul 14
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Happy #NationalScotchDay! As Macallan fan Drew Coblitz says:"The only way to enjoy great Scotch is with friends"#USA http://t.co/TK9EMSo1bS

27 Jul 14
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Join @Mixxit_Miles as he explains how to expertly nose & taste the full-flavoured The Macallan Sienna #FilmFriday http://t.co/rdy3sTOU5m

25 Jul 14
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Looking for the perfect accompaniment to enjoy with Amber? Discover pairings via @VancityBuzz http://t.co/ZvJABRlvJh http://t.co/8qETYkOxIS

24 Jul 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Macallan fan, Lee Bouldon enjoys a dram in stylish M glassware, how do you enjoy yours? http://t.co/DyP63hO0sU

23 Jul 14
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Today we take you into the window of @Harrods with images from our ultimate gentlemen's experience #TheMacallanLounge http://t.co/dikM5bwZKv

18 Jul 14
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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Thank you to everyone who visited #TheMacallanLounge in @Harrods & for sharing your photos http://t.co/rvJ8GWJR0G

16 Jul 14
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Congratulations @GuyClapperton, you’re the winner of a wet shave from @therefineryspa, a @RojaDove candle & M glassware! #TheMacallanLounge

15 Jul 14
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RT @leica_camera: Joseph Goric shares his enthusiasm for photography & his image from @The_Macallan's Masters of Photography contest: http:…

11 Jul 14
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In celebration of #TheMacallanLounge @Harrods RT to #win a wet shave from @therefineryspa, a @RojaDove candle & M glassware [UK only]

10 Jul 14
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Today’s your last chance to visit #TheMacallanLounge @Harrods. Share your images of #The1824Series & grooming from @therefineryspa, 2-6pm.

10 Jul 14
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RT to #win a wet shave from @therefineryspa, a @RojaDove candle & M glassware in celebration of #TheMacallanLounge @Harrods [UK only]

09 Jul 14
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Capture & share your images from #TheMacallanLounge @Harrods now until 10 July, 2-6pm. Enjoy #The1824Series & grooming from @therefineryspa

09 Jul 14
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RT to #win a wet shave from @therefineryspa, a @RojaDove candle & M glassware in celebration of #TheMacallanLounge @Harrods [UK only]

08 Jul 14
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The Macallan

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In celebration of #TheMacallanLounge @Harrods RT to #win a wet shave from @therefineryspa, a @RojaDove candle & M glassware [UK only]

08 Jul 14
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Visit us in @Harrods & enjoy a dram from #The1824Series until 10 July, 2-6pm. Share a snap of your experience using #TheMacallanLounge

07 Jul 14
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RT @Harrods: Come and join us this week in the @The_Macallan Lifestyle Lounge on our Ground Floor. #HarrodsFood http://t.co/gzrefwV4aK

07 Jul 14
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If you're in #London visit #TheMacallanLounge in the windows of @Harrods & enjoy #The1824Series until 10 July, 2-6pm http://t.co/c1KZqSG6jf

05 Jul 14
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Happy #4thofJuly to all of our American friends around the world! We raise a dram of our 12 Years Old Sherry Oak... http://t.co/0gS4ewF7dJ

04 Jul 14
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This week, you can find us at the most luxurious address in Knightsbridge. Can you guess where? #TheMacallanLounge http://t.co/ZpROTPtSdW

01 Jul 14
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We're taking up residence in the world's most famous luxury department store. Can you guess where? #TheMacallanLounge http://t.co/m9ERl5Lh4c

01 Jul 14

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