I’ve recently completed work on a two-day shoot for Brancott Estate Winery and Heritage Centre. A fine spell of weather at the end of January saw me scurrying up to Blenheim, as I really needed sunny weather for this job. Grey skies and dull weather wouldn’t produce the impact we were after.
Brancott Estate were pioneers in the Wine Industry with the first Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough in 1975. In fact in the very first vintage of 1979 the varietal won an award!
The Heritage Centre is a fabulous building by renowned New Zealand designers Jeff Fearon and Tim Hay, of Fearon Hay Architects. Completed in 2011, it sits on a hill overlooking the estate, with views to die for. It has been well thought out, showcases the rich history of the area and has a top class restaurant and wine tasting facilities.
So what’s involved with a job like this? A lot of planning happens before any shots are taken. After discussions with the client a shot list is drawn up. This helps to make sure I’m at a particular part of the estate when the lighting is at its best. A site visit was done on day one so, once the requisite safety briefing and clearances were obtained, I could survey the winery and work out the best vantage points and angles. A GPS is used to work out sunrise and sunset times and locations. I also used the GPS to mark off exact locations to return to. Another essential tool is a high vehicle with a roof tray – useful for shooting over the top of the vines. I also carry a collapsible ladder for the same purpose.
As for camera gear – two 21-megapixel Canon cameras were used, with Canon lenses ranging from 16mm to 400mm. A polarizing filter was occasionally used to reduce reflections and enrich the colour of foliage and skies. Other accessories used were Canon 580 flashes with Pocketwizard wireless remotes, a large reflector and a very sturdy tripod.
If you are ever near Blenheim, Brancott Estate Heritage Centre is a beautiful place to visit. I raise my glass to the staff: a more professional and hospitable crew would be hard to find. I can also vouch for the food and wine experience – top notch!