DIY High Voltage Kirlian Photography Rig

High voltage is a fun, if dangerous, thing to play with. [Mirko] is an enthusiast in this space, and built a high-voltage Kirlian photography device that’s capable of creating some stunning images.

The construction of the device itself is basic. High-frequency, high-voltage electricity is connected to a metal object placed on one side of a glass plate. On the other side, salt water is pooled, and connected to a second electrode. This creates a transparent window through which the electrical discharge can be viewed either by eye or with a digital camera. Historically, this was done with photographic film in place of the transparent window, but the principle is the same.

Popular in the paranormal and alternative medicine spaces, the actual scientific application of Kirlian photography is minimal. Rather, it’s an interesting way to explore high voltages that creates some pretty results! If you find yourself becoming a fan of high voltage, you might also consider your own Tesla coil build, too. Video after the break.

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Simple Acrylic Plates Make Kirlian Photography A Breeze

We know, we know – “Kirlian photography” is a term loaded with pseudoscientific baggage. Paranormal researchers have longed claimed that Kirlian photography can explore the mood or emotional state of a subject through the “aura”, an energy field said to surround and emanate from all living things. It’s straight-up nonsense, of course, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of plasma aficionado [Jay Bowles]’ images produced by capacitive coupling and corona discharge.

Technically, what [Jay] is doing here is not quite Kirlian photography. The classic setup for “electrophotography” is a sandwich of photographic film, a glass plate, and a metal ground plate. An object with a high-voltage, high-frequency power supply attached is placed on top of the sandwich, and the resulting corona discharge exposes the film. [Jay]’s version is a thin chamber made of two pieces of solvent-welded acrylic and filled with water. A bolt between the acrylic panes conducts current from a Tesla coil – perhaps this one that we’ve featured before – into the water. When something is placed on the acrylic, a beautiful purple corona discharge streams out from the object.

It’s an eerie effect, and it’s easy to see how people can see an aura and attribute mystical properties to it. In the end, though, it’s not much different than touching a plasma globe, and just about as safe. Feeling a bit more destructive? Corona discharge is a great way to make art, both in wood and in acrylic.

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