Way back in May, I posted a Slideshow on this subject. The images produced in that Slideshow were for the alternative photography project in my Advanced Photography class. This semester, I'm taking Advanced Photo a second time, which means that I get to choose my projects, and I picked electrophotography because it's so darned fun.

I posted this forum topic looking for ideas back in March, and Goodhart gave me the idea to use electrophotography. It didn't work in the limited timespan I had left in that semester, but I've improved upon the process a bit to generate these.

In the first step, I'll try my best to explain what exactly this is, however, it's going to be too long for an intro.


This Instructable involves the use of high voltages, where "high" means in the thousands of volts range. This should go without saying, but if you are not comfortable working with high voltage, you should not be attempting this, as you will most likely end up in a darkroom with only a safelight to see by, holding both leads of a HV power supply in one hand as you fiddle with your subject with the other. If you do something stupid, this amount of power is potentially deadly. I am not responsible for any damage to you or anything else.

Step 1: Now With Added What?

Most people have never heard of electrophotography, including my photo teacher when I first asked him about it.

As usual, the most succinct definition I can find is on Wikipedia. Essentially, Kirlian photography, or electrophotography, is a technique that creates an image on a light-sensitive medium (sheet film or photo paper) of the corona from an electrically charged object. I don't have any sheet film, so I used photographic paper, which also allows me to use a safelight.

If you simply Google "Kirlian photography," most of the pages are about how it's "taking pictures of auras" or some such nonsense. I will say this plain and simple: that is a load of bull. If they are images of an aura, then apparently quarters have souls. I highly doubt that.

There is depressingly little information out there on electrophotography, and no pictures. The three pages that I found were the aforementioned Wikipedia article, and article from Make magazine (thanks, Goodhart), and this page from Imagesco.com. To my knowledge, this is the only photographic tutorial on the internet-please prove me wrong in the comments if you know somewhere else.

What's in a name? I have been referring to the process as electrophotography, and the result as an electrophotogram. When the word is broken down to it's roots, it has the best description of the actual process. However, the term "electrophotography" is also used to refer to the process in a Xerox copy machine. This is not the same process. I also want to point out that this isn't quite true Kirlian photograhy-that requires much higher voltages than I have at the moment, and uses film, not paper.
<p>really nice</p>
Very cool. My first experience with a Kirlian setup was back in the early 80's, and there was no shock involved (they photographed our hands). So there must be lower voltage ways to do this.
I would think a momentary switch would be safer. I am a tattoo artist and I use a momentary switch activated with my foot. The default setting is in the off position. This allows me to use both hands but power would be disabled as soon as my foot came off the switch.<br><br>Safety first!
This, is awesome!
Great instructable. I think that Kirlian photography is not about photographing the soul, it's more the electrical charge we give off, as do all things including coins, according to physics everything is made up of light and particles.
It's not the electrical charge we give off either, it's the electrical charge that you zap them with when you hook up the high-voltage power supply. If you naturally give off 2kV you'll want to contact your local power company and make a contract.
For the result in your instructable, yes!
EricPGH adds...<br><br>Oh, and B_T_W...<br><br>Keep your digital camera and your PC's _far_, (FAR,) away from HighFreqency/HighVoltage generators like these (Violet Ray, etc.). <br><br>The spark-discharge they create may not be harmful to you (unless you take them into the bathtub with you), but the radio emissions from their sparking is LETHAL to your cameras and PC's.<br><br>Remember: this is not photography (at all) so there's no need for lenses and digital CCD's - - It's just &quot;STENCILING&quot; * with microscopic sparks on photo-sensitive paper - and was never anything otherwise.<br><br>- EricPGH<br>-------------- <br>* &quot;Stenciling&quot; ? - Y'know, like on Martha Stewart, or those caveman wall-paintings: lay your out stretched hand against the wall and spraypaint-over it. Remove your hand and, ta-da! - a stenciled (non-optically derived) image remains.<br><br>
&quot;KIRLIAN&quot; (KP) PHOTOGRAPHY - Facts &amp; Secrets:<br><br>1.) When a high voltage source's coronal-discharge grounds itself _through_ film or print paper, a small degree of visible light and phosphorescent reactive glow is created on the surface of the photographic emulsion and shows (most particularly well-so,) along the edges of the &quot;shadow&quot; of the object placed on the film or print-paper between the voltage source and the grounding plate. The &quot;image&quot; is simply the footprint of a zillion little sparks sizzling onto and through the film or print paper used... Hence, it's not really an &quot;image&quot; - it's a non-optical artifact of electrical discharge.<br>2.) The classic full DIY instructions for a standard KP device are in the old NewAge bestseller book &quot;Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain&quot;. Other than the one harder to find component, the whole thing could be made for less than $5.00. <br>3.) The hard to find item is still pretty easy to find at antique flea-markets: Google-up &quot;Violet Master Ray&quot; to see what I'm talking about. These things were basically a mini-TeslaCoil in a Coke bottle shaped handle - putting-out High-Voltage@High-Frequency - strong enough to travel over the outside of the glass bulb &quot;electrodes&quot; which one plugged into the handle. They delivered a mildly uncomfortable sizzle when applied to the client's skin (our coronal discharge). Run that through a light-tight paper envelope sandwiching a door-key and some print paper - develop that and voila! - a KP photo of the &quot;soul&quot; of a door key...<br><br>- EricPGH<br><br>
Hmm....perhaps not &quot;soul&quot; photography but &quot;Chi&quot; or &quot;Ki&quot; photography?<br />
That's a very interesting tutorial and pretty much one of the first on the web available about electrophotography. In some other pages about it, I heard you could zap living beings, notably hands and finger. There was some picture shown also. I'm am not really sure how to zap living things and I'd rather see someone who's professional about electricity and ask him about that. Also, on the same pages it was saying to relay a ground wire to the NON-LIVING objects to the ground to get a better effect. My guess is that grounding a living thing will give you a hard shock.. Again, I'm not sure how it works. Still, I congratz you again for this very well done Instructables and projects. 5/5
I <em>really</em> wanted to try to image my fingertips, and I'm sure I could have with a rubber mat to stand on or something. I don't know <em>quite</em> enough about how AC voltage works to do it safely, though, and a couple painful zaps were enough to discourage me from further experimentation.<br/>
Well done sir, 5/5.
i am in photo now, and i would like to try it. the school might frown on my playing with high voltage, do you know if a car battery would do the trick?
No. It would most likely burn off your finger without creating an image. You need volts, not amps.
any ideas than for a lower voltage power source
How about some contraption like a car-battery and an ignition-coil from same type of fourwheeled contraption? Possibly check out instructables on flybacks.
That would then cease to be a low-voltage power source. You'll notice that the little 2kV box I'm using has 12VDC input.
Something seems amiss here. How is 2kV "low" voltage?
It's not, that's my point. This project requires a high-voltage power source. If you rig up an ignition coil and driver, that is a HV supply as well, capable of putting out upwards of 50kV. My point was that my PSU, with the 2kV output, has the same 12VDC input that a 50kV ignition coil-based PSU would have.
Aha .. that's much clearer now. Thanx.
No. As I stated in the Instructable, and in my previous response, you need a high voltage power supply. My 2000VAC power supply is just adequate.
Hmmm. Mythbusters meets Bob Ross. Very nice! +5!
If you have a digicam, it should be possible to make an image! Photo paper is very unsensitive. When I had, in the distant past, a contraption to make Kirlian images, with photo paper, I remember I could see the bluish 'aura' around the fingers. well, what one can see can be pictured.......... right????
The <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol09/?pg=68">Make magazine article</a> I referenced describes digital Kirlians. I did not do this partially because it wouldn't fit the assignment, and partially because it requires a <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.imagesco.com/articles/kirlian/07.html">transparent discharge plate.</a> I might try it if I can come up with some cheap conductive glass.<br/>
Cam that looks awesome! Great instructable! I have Photography this year, hopefully I won't have to drop it.. -_-
Interesting! I'd try this if I had a darkroom (that shed in the house I'm buying looks like a good candidate)

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