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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 Residence

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The Macallan

@the_macallan

A 'Fine Cocktail' for a fine Friday. Indulge this weekend: http://t.co/hOEEnSuX3l http://t.co/hIGWQQI9r2

28 Aug 15
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The Macallan

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The M Imperiale 6L @Lalique decanter stole Cire Perdue’s record as the most expensive whisky sold at auction #GWR60 http://t.co/yneA5hUVVq

27 Aug 15
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UK in Mexico

@UKinMexico

RT @UKinMexico: Esta noche @The_Macallan acompaña la celebración del lanzamiento de #GrownInBritain en México #UKMX2015 http://t.co/F1GsKap

26 Aug 15
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Happy 60th @gwr! In 2012 our @Lalique Cire Perdue decanter was awarded 'most expensive whisky sold at auction' #gwr60 http://t.co/FJSXlipqp9

27 Aug 15
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Adding a splash of water can release flavours of Sienna…what’s your idea of the perfect serve? http://t.co/EWyZ7zvb1z

26 Aug 15
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A quartet of spices; root ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & clove represent #MacallanRareCask, the star of the show. http://t.co/35HNgReGpS

25 Aug 15
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@the_macallan

A whisky by the sea, the perfect pairing this holiday season. http://t.co/MTxTMJe4nB

22 Aug 15
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@the_macallan

One of the best line ups you're likely to see: our casks, as captured by @AilsaLeonard http://t.co/8BfOeY2XvL

20 Aug 15
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Bobby Burns doesn't have to be restricted to January. Treat yourself: http://t.co/Zqm59Cq2sv http://t.co/T6crxXXVKu

19 Aug 15
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Sienna Sundown - refreshing & delicious. Discover the recipe here: http://t.co/yiWhHQUaD6 http://t.co/ERTVVZkVL3

14 Aug 15
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Macallan is defined by wood; from every acorn planted to the hand-crafting of every oak cask. http://t.co/w6vTLlF4i7

13 Aug 15
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Sienna at sunset with an ocean view. Bliss. Where are you enjoying Macallan? http://t.co/GGwU9SIwxA

11 Aug 15
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The weekend calls for a zesty twist on The Macallan Amber, Amber Glow: http://t.co/onfSjATqGO http://t.co/N06yAe4Bk1

07 Aug 15
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An insightful look at The Macallan Fine Oak 12 Years Old by @BEXSONN. Peruse the article here: http://t.co/IO65nIW54A http://t.co/BjesFmqKpX

14 Jul 15
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Starting your week in style with a tot of The Macallan? Tonight we're raising Sienna like our fan David. http://t.co/LdZfYzWznj

13 Jul 15
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When notes of cinnamon, dried fruits & ginger meet apple & duck. The result? A perfect pairing. http://t.co/gyIIcAcHie

10 Jul 15
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Forbes México

@Forbes_Mexico

RT @Forbes_Mexico: El año deja de ser importante para los whiskys de @The_Macallan. http://t.co/roXF7f4M9h" target="_blank">http://t.co/roXF7f4M9h #ForbesGourmet #Drinks http://t.…

10 Jul 15
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Master of Wood, Stuart MacPherson reveals the importance of our casks with @FortuneMagazine http://t.co/pmJkuWEwfV http://t.co/fruPTKrEFY

09 Jul 15

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The Macallan’s characters captured continued...

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

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