Kirlian Photography

Making Exposures Using Sheet Film

What you are photographing determines whether or not the object involved should be grounded.


Whenever you photograph a living subject (person, animal or pet) under no circumstances should that subject be grounded or be allowed to touch a ground during exposure. Being in contact with a ground will lead to a nasty shock. Further, anyone with a heart condition or pacemaker should consult with their primary care physician before photographing or allowing themselves to be photographed using this Kirlian device.

When photographing an inanimate object such as a coin, keys, leaf, etc. then connect a ground to the object. Grounding the object produces a stronger corona discharge. You can use a natural ground by connecting a wire to an earth ground, such as a cold water pipe. Or you can use a circuit ground by connecting a wire to point B (see Figure 2) to the object.

Figure 4
Figure 4

Figure 4 illustrates the overview for making an exposure. In some cases you might place a flat sheet of glass (or plastic) on top of the object to make the object lay flat on the film and discharge plate.

Whether you're working with black and white or color film, place the film emulsion side up on the discharge plate. Place the object you are photographing on top of the film. If the object is inanimate, connect a ground wire to it. Flick the switch SW1 about 10-20 times. Each time the switch is flicked you should see a discharge between the object and the discharge plate. This is what is being recorded on the film. Proper exposure is determined by trial and error, making adjustments accordingly.

Often times one uses B/W sheet film to determine the proper exposure then switch to a color sheet film for the final shoot. Black and White ortho has the advantages of being able to work using a red safe light and easily developed.

If you would like to use a standard 35mm camera or video camera to record Kirlian pictures it is possible, but you need to construct a transparent electrode.

The 35mm camera should be a single lens reflex (SLR) type with one or two close-up (macro) lens. In addition the camera needs to have a Bulb (B) setting on its shutter speeds. The B setting keeps the shutter open for as long as the shutter is held down.

Photographers typically use a cable release connected to the shutter to make B exposures. Most cable releases can be set to keep the shutter close when first pressed. The cable has a release mechanism the photographer hits to release the cable and allow the shutter to close after the exposure is made.

Next Page: Kirlian Photography using a Transparent Discharge Plate