Bertrand Kulik is a violinist by profession and is passionate about photography. In his artistic pursuits, he does not dissociate music and image, quite the opposite. He approaches photography as a totally complimentary part of his activity as a musician. The two disciplines also influence the manner in which he assesses the material, the colors and the vision of the things that surround him and creates photographs that are in singular agreement.
Who are you and how did you begin photography?
Astronomy being my first passion, I naturally wanted to take photos of the sky. I bought my first camera, a Canon EOS 350D, for this reason. Once I had it, I felt like taking photos of everything. I was particularly fascinated by materials. A little like a painter who looks for the colors before painting his picture, I had the feeling of having, in my own way, explored a lot of things.
What is your source of inspiration? Do you have photographic references?
I have always been attracted by the forms and colors of nature, also by the ties linking this beauty to science. I am very inspired by the images which made me dream in my youth; the cosmos, the moon, the infinitely large, but also the infinitely small. I feel more inspired by these images than by the world of photography. Even though, off course, I greatly admire certain photographers. In effect, If I had to find inspiration in a picture, it would be more in painting. I am also greatly inspired by the light. I like to search for its effects and to play with shadows to compose original abstract pictures. Light has a way of behaving which, for me is without limit. I will never tire of observing its diffraction in the threads of a spider web or inside a cloud.
Did you immediately gravitate towards macrophotography?
I like everything about photography and I like touching everything, but this affinity for the infinitely small makes me travel far in the imaginary. It is extraordinary to be able to see very small things and to be a privileged witness of unexpected moments. I like this close relationship to the subjects and this total immersion which requires intense concentration.
What attracts you within this particular domain?
Macrophotography requires great patience, but also luck! One has to observe, think about ones subject, choose its composition in relation, etc. For all these reasons, this domain is very technical and it is a real challenge to achieve these photos. When, on top of this, nature offers you a magical moment, it is a big moment of pleasure.
You created some very original series like Snow ball gift, Circus flower drops, Drops of dreams, tell us about these series. What inspired you and how did you do it?
Effectively. I created the series by playing with reflections visible in drops of water. A little bit in the form of a micro lens, it is possible to see a picture in a drop of water. For this, the subject should be just behind the droplet. I found that it was a truly amusing way to play with forms and colors! I started with flowers, and then I had the idea to put the Parisian monuments inside drops, to recall the snow globe souvenirs sold in souvenir shops. By observing insects imprisoned in spider webs, I had the idea to spray water with the intent to create contrasts between the cruelty of the moment and the beauty of the picture with the help of the background colors. It is a way of staging nature to speak about life.
What equipment do you use?
I use a Canon EOS 7D housing with different lens. In macro I started simply by doing a proxy with a 70-300mm APO DG Sigma lens which was satisfactory at the beginning, then I leant naturally towards the 100mm Canon (not L) which opens to f/2,8. This perspective is really good and allows one to make real macro images. In addition, I invested in a lens which I find extraordinary, the Canon MP-E 65mm, the only one in the world dedicated to macrophotography. Indeed, it is not possible to use it by focusing at less than 10cm! It starts off where traditional lenses stop. With the MP-E, it is possible to go from a ratio of 1 to a ratio of 5 without any accessories. All simply extraordinary! However, this lens is not easy to use. It has neither a focus ring nor a stabilizer.
What are the techniques particular to macro?
Macro is a particularly demanding domain. It requires great patience, a good sense of observation, but also a lot of luck. It is important to have good control of ones breathing so as not to have blurs caused by movement while taking shots.
What advice can you give an amateur photographer who would like to take this up?
First and foremost, to be observant and to not be afraid of failure! It is normal at the beginning to have a large number of pictures to redo. You have to be very persevering, but tenacity always pays! Increase the attempts!
Purely from the technical perspective, it is important to have a wide enough lens, because in macro when you have to be really close to your subject, there is usually a lose of light. For this reason, I work regularly using flashes (Metz MS-1 and YN-568EX).
For an amateur who would like to start, I recommend a 100mm with a good aperture. There are some in all brands and they are all quite good! A lens with this focus will allow one to take lots of beautiful photos without getting to close to your subjects. And yes, the nearer you come the more difficult it is to prevent them from fleeing!
You also take a lot of photos of the sky, mostly lightening. It is a little bit the infinitely small against the infinitely large. Do you think this is something significant?
Yes! I have always been fascinated by the infinitely large and the infinitely small. I like it when you can get lost in the scales of magnitude. It is very pleasing to show that no matter your environment, it is possible to discover a huge number of unexpected elements! I had the opportunity to witness some very beautiful Parisian lightening or even some unbelievable atmospheric phenomena’s. I find that no matter the scale, I am always drawn to graphic compositions or to particular colors. It is as a matter of fact amusing to see that in my photos certain subjects with no link are unbelievably alike!