How to Take Kirlian Photos




You have seen those amazing photos with the lightning bolts shooting out of everyday objects. Now it is your turn to learn how to make these pictures


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Step 1: Danger!!!!

Warning this project involves extremely high voltages. I am not liable for any damages you cause to other people or yourself. SO have fun and be careful

Step 2: What You Need

For this project you will need:

To Buy:

Sheet Metal, Mine was 12x18 but you can go larger or smaller if you want ($5)
Page protectors ($3 for 100)
Speaker wire($5 for 100 feet)
Rigid Copper Wire(Depends on where you buy it, 1foot should only be a couple cents, you need 3)
Neon Sign Transformer($25 on eBay)

What you need to take the photo:

Digital camera that can take a long exposure (10 seconds minimum)
Small metal objects, or you can dip plastic items in salt water.

Total costs: about $35 but if you use a flyback transformer or other high voltage source it will be cheaper...

Step 3: Making the Discharge Plate

The discharge plate is the piece of metal that is under the insulator, it causes the metal object to try to discharge, but since the plastic is in the way it makes the electricity spark out trying to reach the bare metal.

In this step you will need:

Sheet Metal
Speaker Wire (2"

With the ducttape, kneel on the floor with the metal plate vertical between your knees and fold the ducctape over the hotdog way' so that half of the ducttape is on the front and half of it is on the back. I went over each edge twice for added thickness but you don't have to. Repeat this steps on all of the sides except for 1. The side you don't tape should be one of the shorter sides.

Now set the plate down on a table with the tape-free side facing you. On the lower right corner slice off the last inch of tape (shown in picture three) remove the tape on that last inch on the top and the bottom.

To connect the speaker wire, strip both wires, about an inch long and tape one of them to the top of the plate and the other to the bottom (see Picture four and five) after you have connected the wires, finish putting the ducttape on the last edge.

The other end of the speaker wire you will need to strip and wind the two separate half of the wire together, this end will go to the NEGATIVE terminal of your transformer.

If you dont know which end is the negative, find a grounded object and touch each end of the transformer to the grounded object, one of them will spark, the other one will do nothing, connect the plate's wire to the one that does nothing.

Step 4: Making the Sparks.

Since your plate is negative, there are no sparks, to get the sparks connect the other wire, the tough harder to bend wire to the POSITIVE side of the transformer. While taking the picture you will touch this wire to the object on the discharge plate, therefore making a spark.

Step 5: Taking the Picture

To take the picture you will need to move your setup into a dark room with a light you can turn on and off with out leaving the equiptment alone. With the lights still on place the page protector on the discharge plate. Whatever the object is that the picture is going to be taken of will need to be set on top of this, so be careful of the size of your object, it it is too large it will just short out. Screw your camera onto the tripod and set the exposure setting to about 8 seconds, also zoom into the object so that the object is centered with about 2-3 inches of room around it. When you are ready to take the picture turn on transformer and turn out the lights. After the lights are off touch the wire (yes you have to hold it, but only use one hand and NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER 1MILLION TIMES NEVER TOUCH THE PLATE WITH THE OTHER HAND, doing so would lead to the transformer shorting out your heart, so be careful.) and hold it on the object. At first you will be freaked out and scream and drop the wire because the sparkes are very lound and bright but after a while you will be used to it. After you are comforatble with the sparks and the lights out with the sparks on start your camera. After the picture is finished unplug the transformer or turn it off FIRST and then turn the lights back on. The best thing you could do is have a flashlight that you can turn on after the picture to see so you won't electricute your self! Another good idea is to have someone help you with starting the camera and plugging in everything and then unpugging it. It is very cool to watch so have fun but be careful please.

Step 6: The Use of My Kareoke Machine

My table is tall and with my tripod i couldn't see the if the picture was centered or zoomed properly, so I took the cable that came with the camera that you use to hook it to a TV and connected it to that which had a little black and white screen on it. If you can't see your camera and it can hook to a TV this is the way to go if you are A) near a TV or B) if you have a little TV that you can set near your project

Step 7: Optional Discharge Plate

In the video
At the beginning the plate is made of tinfoil. If you don't have easy acess to sheet metal or can't get to a store that sells it you can take a thin board and fold the tinfoil over it and tape the back, then use the same instructions as before. Still an even easier plate is to just set a square of tinfoil on a table and use that. Pretty much anything that is flat, metal, larger than a piece of paper and you can hook wires to will work as a discharge plate.

Step 8: Page Protectors

I don't have any pictures, but after so many objects or if the object has a sharp point that is sticking in to the page protector it will short out. The first time it will be pretty scary because of the flash of light, but not to worry it causes no harm, all you have to do is put a new page protector on and you're ready to go. If an object shorts out every time check it for sharp barbs or if it is sticking into the plastic, if it is fix it or find a new object.

Step 9: Finished Picture!

WIth the finished pictures you can leave as is or take a before and after picture and photoshop the lightning free picture in the light on to the next picture with the lightning. you can see that is what I did with the old Zune that didn't work I zapped the broken one and put a picture i found online on top of it in photo shop.

Have fun, but be safe!

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    27 Discussions

    Chico da Rave

    2 years ago

    Can I make pictures of a full human body?

    inspecter gadget

    3 years ago

    Having constructed a fair few high voltage circuits over the last 15 years, I can appreciate the art of the spark or corona as it is known. I like your images- it truley shows what really exists in the abscence of light! when electricity is concerned. I wonder if you could capture the thousand or so sparks that are born, whilst you are pulling a synthetic jumper over your head???? that would probably look like the image from, The Z machine at Sandia National Laboratory :-)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am sorry... To me,...... this is NOT KIRLIAN photograpgy at all. But more of taking pics of static elect. and then photoshoping something into the pic..... .Kirlian is the takiing of photo's of aura. the NATURAL static discharge of objects. No superimposing or photoshoping or layering........That is to say.....To me....

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You should be!
    because i find, you lack research on the subject matter you speak and criticise on. Do you know, Every subject on earth has its own sort of aura, which is basically an form of energy. Living organisms produce those vibes around them that is known as aura. for more intense definition, the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place. well, basically that energy or every energy in its natural form is invisible or its invisible to our normal eyes. To catch them in the photographic medium or to make them visible by our eyes, we need to electrify the subject. Which absolutely no where could be defined as the way you are doing. High voltage (which is electric energy itself) pumps up the aura or that energy which we vibrates. and helps us to capture them on our photosensitive films.
    if your opinions says that, its nothing but capturing image of static electricity then try capturing static electricity which will give you optimum results and not just minute current passing through your body or your subject. cause i would like to see the results and yes i am open to change my beliefs about this particular project. I welcome new developments.
    well, I would suggest, you should do more research on basics on this topic and then you might understand what is it? because as of now it seems to me that you are not aware of basics and which is why you are not finding it justified and making you think like this.
    because there are books and documents available on this subject also few useful videos online. that clearly shows the transformation of aura with the emotions of a person (subject). if what you are saying is right then that static electricity should be affecting by the connection between the mood of a person and aura. isnt it?


    7 years ago on Step 9

    I think this post-processing method would yield better results. I think that if you create a silhouette cutout of the 'item' out of foil you can use that to generate the effect. Then take a second shot of the 'real' object and layer them together. It will definitely give you better control over the process and avoid conductivity and shorting issues.

    Of course this is just speculation on my part as I have yet to try this experiment.


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Just wondering: Neon sign transformers output AC, right? If so, what is the difference between the positive and negative outputs?

    1 reply

    Neon transformers are AC. There are two hot wires and a center tap which is normally connected to neutral or ground. There is no positive or negative. You could use a high voltage rectifier if you want DC.


    9 years ago on Step 5

     I see kirlian photography of peoples hands all the time.  How is that possible?  This one would short circuit your heart, as you said.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hook the HOT wire to the conductive side of ITO glass, or to an electrode immersed in salt water, between two pieces of glass: This is thousands of volts, so you are a good enough ground just standing there.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    That is ether a different type or someone else's hand (Still dangerous, probably kill the hand muscles) or a hand shaped plate. There is a type that only images the electric field you make by existing.


    i love messing around with my flyback looking at corona discharge and soforth once your eyes are completely adjusted to the dark its really neat cool pics you should put more do you know of any other good insulates to use

    1 reply
    Slick36The 4th Doctor

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Other insulaters that work but burn up really quickly are plastic ziplock bags set on the metal...


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I already have taken some of coins, see! well this is three together, i have like 300 different pictures


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Search ebay thats where i got mine (7.5KV at 30MA) works well and was cheap only $25