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How To Photograph Energy (Kirlian Photography)

Did you know that you can, quite literally, photograph the energy aura exuding from any object on Earth? Now you do! You can actually capture and record energy effectively using a type of photography known as Kirlian Photography. It’s not nearly as difficult as you may think, here is our guide on how to record these unique images. 

What is Kirlian Photography? 

“Kirlian photography is a technique for creating contact print photographs using high voltage. The process entails placing sheet photographic film on top of a metal discharge plate. The object to be photographed is then placed directly on top of the film. High voltage current is momentarily applied to the object, thus creating an exposure. The corona discharge between the object and the plate due to high-voltage is captured by the film. The developed film results in a Kirlian photograph of the object.” 

In layman terms, Kirlian photography refers to photographing the energy that comes out of an object when it has energy run through it. You are essentially capturing the energy discharge as it leaves the object! Kirlian photography is often associated with even capturing the ‘auras’ of something as the result creates an image showing a glowing energy field around the subject. 

Some photographers even use different colored film or different colored dyes to produce varying results. Although a lot of Kirlian photography showcases energy discharge in blue, there is no limit to the produced results. 

You don’t even have to use a camera to capture Kirlian photography, although in the current digital age, a camera will produce more interesting results. It is possible to use a transparent electrode in place of the high-voltage discharge plate, for capturing the resulting corona discharge with a standard photo or video camera.

The History Behind Kirlian Photography 

Kirlian photography is named after Semyon Davidovich Kirlian and his wife Valentina who began their work with high voltage photography in 1939. Kirlian developed equipment, technique, and ability for producing and studying electro-photography. The pair realized that you could capture the corona discharge of anything once you send voltage through it. 

Kirlian’s work was first made known to the general public by a book published in 1970 by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder titled “Psychic discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain”. It is said that electro-photography can be used to capture supernatural phenomena, and as such, was included in the work. Kirlian’s photography became so well known that the field of high voltage electro-photography that the photography itself took on the namesake “Kirlian Photography”.

What Do You Need? 

What you need for Kirilian photography is a transparent discharge plate, a way to apply high voltage (usually through a power source), a sheet of film, insulating material, and a backdrop (such as a black matte board). 

For the transparent discharge plate, you can actually make one. A transparent discharge plate is constructed from four main components; a piece of glass that has a transparent, electrically conductive coating of tin oxide on one side, a ring electrode made from thin adhesive copper foil, and two pieces of transparent plastic. Put them all together and you have your plate! 

For the high voltage power source, you want a power supply that can supply a steady continuous output rather than one that outputs pulses. A reasonable high voltage power supply for Kirlian ought to be about to supply 3000 to 10,000 (or more) volts. Your local hardware store should have something that can work. Make sure it has a method of being connected to your transparent discharge plate. 

How To Photography Energy 

Now, since most Kirlian Photography is actually a print process and not a photographing one, if you want to capture the print, you don’t need a camera. 

Step 1. For Kirlian prints, all you need to do is take a sheet film and place it on top of a metal plate (which is referred to as a transparent discharge plate). 

Step 2. The object that you want to photograph is placed on top of the film. 

Step 3. High voltage is applied to the plate momentarily to make an exposure. The corona discharge between the object and discharge plate passes through and is recorded onto the film.

Step 4. When the film is developed you have a Kirlian photograph of the object.

However, if you want to use a camera, a few modifications are required. 

Step 1. Firstly, place down a black background, this can be a matte board or something of the like. 

Step 2. Next, take your object and place it down on the black background material. Cover that with insulating material. Next, place a transparent discharge plate that is connected to a high voltage power source on top of the insulating material. 

Step 3. The digital camera is manually focused onto the object through the transparent discharge plate. Make sure the location you are shooting in is completely dark, with no light exposure.

Step 4: Turn on the high voltage power source. You will know it is working because you’ll be able to visibly see the feeble light from the corona discharge around the object. 

Step 5: Set the camera shutter to 10-15 seconds, a long exposure. When the camera’s shutter closes the high voltage power source is turned off. The digital camera should have recorded the corona discharge around the object which is a Kirlian photograph. 

In conclusion, Kirilian photography isn’t too difficult to achieve- and can be a lot of fun to play with! 

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