Kirlian Photography Techniques and Equipment

Kirlian Photography Techniques and Equipment

J.D. Zakis, B.L. Lithgow, 1. Cosic, J. Fang,

Bioelectronics Group, Departinent of E&CSE, Monash University

V. Soultanov, Eastok Pty Ltd


Kirlian Photography was first developed in the Soviet Union and was unheard of in the West for decades. It was then enthusiastically accepted not only by the scientific community but also by parapsychologists.

Kirlian Photography has the potential to be devel- oped into a non-invasive diagnostic technology that could ultimately be made available for a much lower cost than alternative technologies.

This paper describes the physical basis of Kirlian Photography, it’s manifestation, and the technologies used in its implementation.



In 1939, Sernyon Kirlian, a Russian, discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is subjected to a high-voltage electric field, an image is created on the plate. The image looks like a halo and is a visible corona discharge that is also visible in high voltage power distribution systems. This image is said to be a physical manifestation of the aura or life force that allegedly surrounds each living thing.

Despite various claims, the Kirlian images produced by the so called “Kirlian Effect” are due to corona discharge caused by the application of short bursts of very high voltage at high frequency for a period of time long enough to take a photograph of the resulting discharge. The method of generation and the details of the waveforms are complex but essentially an ordinary corona breakdown phenomenon occurs on each positive and each negative half cycle of the high voltage waveform.

Thelma Moss visited the USSR, including Moscow, Leningrad and Aima-Ata in 1970 as well as Prague and Sofia. She was especially invited to the Kirov State University of Kazakhstan, biology department, which had done extensive research into scientific ap- plications of Kirlian photography [1, 2]. This eventually led her to set up the first full scale Kirlian research program in America.

William Tittler, travelled to the USSR with a group of scientists, doctors, and laymen from the Association for Research and Enlightenment, visiting Moscow and Leningrad. Tittler learned a great deal about Kirlian photography, which he has published in detail along with technical plans [3]. At Stanford Tittlerassembled equipment designed to approximate the Soviet technique [4].

Moss, popularised Kirlian photography as diagnostic medical tool with her books The Body Electric (1979) and The Probability of the Impossible (1983). She was convinced that the Kirlian process was an open door to the bioenergy of the astral body.

The main use of Kirlian Photography is as a fast, in- expensive and relatively non-invasive means for the diagnostic evaluation of physiological and psycho- logical states [5].

Among the initial fmdings is that disease shows up in a disturbed pattern of flares long before it manifests in the physical body in any diagnosable form. The pat- terns of the flares are substantially altered by the weather, day and night, cosmic disturbances such as solar flares and psychological states such as stress. The brightest flares on the body show at the points on the skin known to be acupuncture points.

The Kirlian photography process itself is not a psychic event, and has nothing whatever to do with occultism any more than the electroencephalograph. Kirlian photography devices, developed for use in scientific research, can also applied to studying psychic events.

In its basic form the Kirlian technique uses a Tesla Coil connected to a metal plate, on which are placed the film and object to be photographed, in the dark. Switching on the high voltage, high frequency electricity causes the film to record an image of the object surrounded by a corona discharge field. Non living things such as coins give a constant unvarying piemre. Living things exhibit continuously changing patterns.

The originality of the Kirlian method does not lie in the development of the high frequency spark generator itself, but in the wide range of patented apparatus that make it possible for the spark generator to be used in a variety of photographic applications.

A large number of researchers have succeeded in constructing electrogmphic equipment and making photographs. In 1972 scientists from Stanford, UCLA, Newark College of Engineering, the University of New Mexico, Roger Williams College and others, gathered at the First Western Hemisphere Conference on Kirlian Photography and Acupuncture in New York. Several hundred people attended [6].



Some scientists think that stimulating the skin with the high frequency electric fields used in Kirlian photography simply causes the body to radiate electrified particles, which show up in the photos as different patterns. They call this cold electron emission, and physicist Victor Adamenko [7, 8, 9, 10] says it might have its roots in the same level of substance as the aura. Some Western scientists say this theory cannot account for all the light given off. Others insist that Kirlian photography is amplifying a different energy within the body, which they call bioplasmic energy [11]. They envisage the bioplasma body as a kind of energy counterpart of the physical body.

There is also evidence that Kirlian images can be used for diagnostic purposes [5, 12]. The Kirlian photos have so far proved to be a means of early detection of illnesses, which show as disturbed energy patterns in the pictures. It is possible perhaps, to prevent illness, by re-balancing these disturbed energies seen in the Kirlian photos, and this might be what acupuncture treatment does.

There is a rich assortrnent of material available on the Web, for example at UC Davis [13]. Extensive indexes and descriptive materials, some of which are far from scientific, are also available [14, 15].



Electronic versions of Kirlian equipment contain not only a CCD camera but also the high voltage genera- tor and its controller as shown in Figure 1. The video image is captured using a standard PC compatible video capture card. This captured image is then proc- essed by computer, to produce the coloured images used for diagnosis. 

Kirlians and Kirlian Photography

Full text: Kirlian Photography Techniques and Equipment


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