Kirlian photography

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kirlian photograph of two coins

The Kirlian or corona discharge photography (also high-frequency high voltage Photography ) is a photographic process for the visualization of glow or corona discharges . The process was developed by the Soviet couple Semjon Kirlian and Walentina Kirliana from 1937.

The underlying effects are used technically in corona cameras , which can make corona discharges optically visible on high-voltage lines , for example . Other areas of application for Kirlian photography are art and advertising .

History and Development

The Soviet electrical engineer Semjon Davidowitsch Kirlian discovered this type of photography by accident in 1937 when he was supposed to repair a medical device and patented the process several times in 1949. Later he continued to research Kirlian photography with his wife Valentina Kirliana and the doctor Ruben Stepanow .

Tesla Kirlian A homage, male thumb 1989
Tesla Kirlian A homage, female thumb 1989


As a result of the electric field strength , gases, as well as air, ionize and thus lead to a gas discharge . The electric field strength must not be too high in order to enable the so-called corona discharge or glow discharge . These are among the weakest electrical discharges and, like almost all gas discharges, are associated with light phenomena of varying strength that can be reproduced by photographic processes. The light phenomena caused by weak electrical discharges are used technically, for example in glow lamps and plasma lamps .

In the case of corona discharges, the associated light phenomena can be so weak that they can only be optically detected under certain conditions such as darkened rooms or only with appropriate technical aids such as corona cameras.

Electrical discharges are not tied to certain shapes or materials of the objects and can originate from all electrically conductive materials such as metals, but also from living organisms such as animals and plants. In the case of flat, electrically conductive surfaces, almost homogeneous electric field strengths and an almost uniform discharge over the surface occur. However, even in these cases, different discharge patterns are optically recognizable due to slight unevenness in the apparently flat surface. In the case of edges or points, higher electrical field strengths occur due to the edge effect, with the result that the electrical discharges start preferentially at those points or areas.

The luminous phenomena emanating from the electrode in the photograph , such as a finger, are not “mysterious rays” in this sense, but rather self-luminous discharge channels as a result of a gas discharge. The discharge is influenced by the shape of the electrodes, distribution of electrical conductivity, moisture in the gas, evaporation and other physical factors; The texture of the surface also plays a role.


A metal plate is placed in a darkened room. An insulator , for example a thin ceramic plate, is attached to this. The film to be exposed is now attached to the isolation plate with the photosensitive side facing up. The object to be photographed is placed on the film, for example a leaf or a person. It is important that the object is an electrical conductor. A high voltage of around 20,000  volts is then applied to the metal plate , which is obtained, for example, from a Tesla transformer . Depending on the required exposure time , the electrical voltage is switched on for a few fractions of a second (about 100 μs). A corona discharge arises around the object .

Since only small electrical currents flow with corona discharges , these discharges are generally harmless.

Alternative medical application

In an alternative medical approach, Kirlian photography is intended to draw conclusions about the electrical conductivity of the body surface in order to assess whether so-called meridians ( meridians in the sense of traditional Chinese medicine ) are blocked. For this purpose, mainly hands and feet are shown because acupuncture teachings that the meridians begin and end on fingertips and toes. By comparing the Kirlian photographs of people with known illnesses with those of people who were not known to have illnesses, deviations typical for the illness are searched for, and some alternative practitioners believe that they can use this diagnostically . In the Deutsches Ärzteblatt, however , the reproducibility and diagnostic significance of Kirlian photography are clearly denied.


As with all experiments with high voltage, improper use can lead to electrical accidents . People with pacemakers or heart failure are particularly at risk . In the event of inadequate ventilation, the process of gas discharge in air can cause harmful gases such as nitrogen dioxide or ozone to accumulate.




Kirlian photography

  • Stanley Krippner (Hrsg.), Daniel Rubin (Hrsg.): Lichtbilder der Seele (The Kirlian Aura, Ger.). Psi made visible; everything about Kirlian's aura photography. Scherz, Bern / Munich 1975, ISBN 3-502-13393-X .
    Approved paperback edition from Goldmann, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-442-11709-7 , original edition: Galaxies of life: the human aura in acupuncture and Kirlian photography. Gordon & Breach, New York 1973.
    The following year Gordon & Breach published a facsimile reprint of the 1973 edition under the title The Kirlian aura. Photographing the galaxies of life: (conference; New York, May 25, 1972: formerly: Galaxies of life: the human aura in acupuncture and Kirlian photography.)
    New edition by another publisher: The Kirlian Aura: Photographing the Galaxies of Life. Anchor Press, Doubleday, New York 1974.
  • Earle Lane (Ed.): Electrophotography: Kirlian photography, electroacupuncture, biofeedback, information resources. Includes 56 spectacular color kirlian photographs. And / Or Press, San Francisco 1975.
  • Kendall Johnson: The living aura. Radiation field photography and the Kirlian effect. Hawthorn, New York 1975, ISBN 0-8015-4312-6 .
  • Mikol Davis, Earle Lane: Rainbows of Life. The promise of Kirlian photography. Harper & Row, New York 1978.
  • Peter Mandel: Energetic Terminal Point Diagnosis. Synthesis-Verlag, Essen 1983, ISBN 3-922026-19-2 .
  • Willi Franz: Handbook of Kirlian photography - The technique of Kirlian photography in theory and practice. Hannemann, Steimbke 1987, ISBN 3-88716-028-2 .
    4th ext. Edition under the title: Handbuch der Kirlianfotografie: Theory and Techniques / Willi Franz. With an afterword by Peter Hoffmann. Naglschmid, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-925342-37-0 .
  • Frank Eickermann: Handbook of Kirliandiagnostik. From the practice for the practice. Hannemann, Liebenau 1988, ISBN 3-88716-033-9 .
  • Dieter Knapp: Our radiant body. Energy field photographs for diagnosis and healing. Knaur, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-426-76127-0 .
  • Brian Snellgrove: Images of the Aura. The practical book on Kirlian photography. Goldmann, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-442-14119-2 .
    Original edition: Brian Snellgrove, Marita Snellgrove: The unseen self. Your hidden potential. Kirlian Aura Diagnosis, Carshalton 1979;
    revised and expanded new edition: Saffron Walden: The unseen self: Kirlian photography explained / Brian Snellgrove; index compiled by Barbara Newby. C. W. Daniel 1996, ISBN 0-85207-277-5 .
  • Peter Lay: Kirlian Photography - Fascinating experiments with paranormal luminous phenomena. Franzis, Poing 2000, ISBN 3-7723-5974-4 ;
    Republished with two other books in: Extraordinary Phenomena - The Great Experimentation Handbook. Franzis, Poing 2007, ISBN 978-3-7723-4398-8 .
  • Michael König: Photon Diagnosis. Vitality is measurable - how alive are you really? Scorpio, Berlin / Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-943416-70-1 .


  • David G. Boyers, William A. Tiller: Corona Discharge Photography. In: Journal of Applied Physics. No. 44, Issue 7, 1973, pp. 3102-3112.
  • Fritz Binder, Manfred Kirschner: Lightning from the fingertip. Spook or physics. In: Image of Science. Volume 3, 1975, pp. 38-49.
  • John Oliver Pehek, HJ Kyler, DL Faust: Image modulation in corona discharge photography. In: Science. No. 194, issue 4262, October 15, 1976, ISSN  0036-8075 , pp. 263-270, doi: 10.1126 / science.968480 .
  • Kirlian photography. High voltage 20kV with ignition coil. In: Elektor. Volume 5, 1977, p. 22.
  • Fritz Binder: Kirlian Photography. The misinterpreted photo. In: ZOOM. 3-4, 1982, p. 40 ff.
  • Allan Mills: Kirlian photography. In: History of Photography. Issue 33, issue 3, June 29, 2009, pp. 278–287, doi: 10.1080 / 03087290802582988 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Kirlianfotografie  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Einar Göhring: Kirlian photography: Filigree crystals, painted with light. In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt. 95, issue 27, July 3, 1998, p. A-1743.
  2. Krista Federspiel: Mystical Processes: Sources of Danger. In: Focus magazine. January 17, 1994, online at, accessed on January 12, 2017.
  3. Helmut Hildebrandt: Pschyrembel. Dictionary of naturopathy and alternative healing methods. 2nd Edition. de Gruyter, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-11-016609-7 .
  4. ^ Edzard Ernst : Complementary medical diagnostic procedures. In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt. Vol. 102, Issue 44, November 4, 2005, pp. A 3034–3037, online at (PDF; 55 kB), accessed on January 12, 2017.