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Kirlian Images: Electricity Meets Photography

 |  |  |  |  |  |  |  January 25, 2008

No, these striking images weren’t made using Photoshop trickery. They were actually taken using a unique process which involves placing photographic paper onto an object, placing them both on a high-voltage plate, then cranking up the juice.

Kirlian Photography

Referred to as Kirlian photography, the technique dates back to a 1939 discovery (by a man named Kirlian, of course) that when an object is placed on an electrified plate, tiny coronas around the item can cause photo paper to expose in unusual and beautiful ways. Over the years, the effect has been co-opted by various new-age charlatans and snake oil salesmen with claims that the images were indications of some sort of paranormal “aura”. What a bunch of hokum.

Kirlian Photography Device

Up until now, there wasn’t a good way to produce your own Kirlian images without building your own homebrew high-voltage rig, risking life and limb in the process. The $250 Kirlian Photography Device lets you to make your own electrified images without having to hack together your own. The metal imaging plate can be used with any 4X5 color or black & white sheet film and paper or even Polaroid film. Different film types and frequency adjustments create a virtually limitless array of image effects. You’ll need a 4×5 camera to use this out-of-the-box, or you can spend an additional $99 on a transparent plate which lets you capture the images with a standard 35mm or digital camera.

Now keep in mind that this thing isn’t a kid’s toy. It’s a serious electrical device, and you actually have to sign off on a disclaimer form before you can buy one. For some reason, I doubt these things are UL-approved.