A concert violinist has captured incredible “Tears of Paris” photos portraying iconic monuments through water droplets — and explains how you can do it too. Bertrand Kulik, 37, from Paris, shot the vibrant, colorful landmarks through small circles of water to highlight their impressiveness and show otherworldly twists on familiar sights.
It can take more than an hour and up to 100 images for the perfect addition to his “Tears of Paris” series — for which he has captured the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Nôtre-Dame and many more.
To take the photographs, Bertrand uses a specialized macro lens without a focus ring, which means he needs “Zen-like” calmness while shooting because any vibration will ruin the image. To achieve the desired distortions, he uses raindrops on a window or a glass filter with a water spray as the prism for the images.
Bertrand said: “I like the abstract side, colors, shapes and matter; every person has seen these monuments but never with an angle like this. I like when we can recognize the monument easily, which is why I like the Eiffel Tower and Nôtre-Dame.
“I like too when colors are strong,” he added. “That’s why one of my favorite ones is the Arc de Triomphe. Behind droplets we can see the French flag, and the colors are really shiny. I like this setup because it creates some very contemporary pictures; maybe it’s a bit more abstract.
“Usually I use flowers and make drops with a water spray for catching flowers’ reflections inside drops, but for my new series I use a glass filter to have more droplets,” he said. “After flowers, I thought it could be nice to have French monuments inside droplets.
“For my monument drops, I had to make some drops with a water spray before finding the perfect angle. That’s great because when it’s a sunny day, it’s easier to find contrast. The most important thing is to be very calm and to find the good angle with my lens. I try not to breathe because of the vibrations — I try to be extremely Zen. It’s very hard to get a good focus, [but] to be sure sometimes I can take 100 pictures,” Bertrand said.
“Sometimes the images take just a few minutes, but because when I have an idea, I want to be sure to have ‘the picture.’ It can take a long time,” he said. “For example, for the last one, I was waiting for the good light and I stayed there for over an hour.
“For the focusing it’s necessary to be very, very close to the subject, and when I use it, shaking is absolutely forbidden.”
Bertrand’s photography attracts a lot of attention when he’s at popular tourist hot spots, with visitors quizzing him on what he is doing and putting himself in unusual situations.
He said: “I like the Nôtre-Dame shot because it was the last one, when I was taking pictures; some tourists gathered around because they didn’t understand what I was doing. It’s always funny when people come to ask questions when I am taking photos.
“For the Arc de Triomphe, I had some difficulty because for catching the good angle I had to be on the middle of the road,” Bertrand said. “It was a bit dangerous, so I had to be fast, but actually I forgot the danger and stayed there around 30 minutes.” Bertrand was initially inspired to take the images on May 1, 2015, during the La Fête du Travail, France’s National Labor Day — when it is traditional to buy lilies from the valley.
He said: “I like the reflections of the iconic Eiffel Tower because I took it on … La Fête du Travail. The tradition of this day is to buy lilies of the valley, [so] I bought one, and the lilies were in plastic paper with water drops. I saw reflections inside and I decided to try to catch them.
“In the very beginning, I used flowers, but a few months ago I found that it works with a photo filter with water drops on,” Bertrand said. “Just the same as with music, I am fascinated by matter, shapes and colors.”
His “Tears of Paris” images will be exhibited on Nov. 4 and 5 at Espace Culturel Le Fil d’Eau, in La Wantzenau, France.
To capture his photographs, Bertrand uses a special lens on his Canon MP-E 65mm specifically built for closeups. He said: “Macro pictures are the better way to capture some abstracts of the universe.
“I use a very special lens for my Canon MP-E 65mm. This lens is only for taking macro photography and has no focus ring. This lens is unique — only Canon makes a lens capable of having an approach so strong without any accessories — and it’s very difficult to master. It’s like sport archery because this lens has no focus ring.”