One of my favourite Kirlian Aura / Electrophotographs, this aster is being illuminated by a corona discharge just shy of 30,000 volts. Equipment rarely used for the sole purpose of photographic art, these high-voltage images have been a fun summer experiment – read on!

This aster was purchased for a full-day photo workshop I’m holding here in my gardens and studio tomorrow, trying to freshen up the floral offerings in the midst of the unusual weather we’ve had this year; too hot and dry, many flowers blooming ahead of schedule. The radial symmetry of the petals with gaps in between piqued my interest, and I had a feeling it would give the needed space for the discharge to spread out. There is more knowledge required to get here, though!

Moisture is an important factor. The higher the moisture content, the more responsive the subject. Acting on a hunch in an attempt to spread out the corona discharge farther from the subject, I sprayed a fine mist of water over a piece of thin plexiglass originally designed for a cheap photo frame I had lying around. This created a small separation from the cathode, a glass plate, allowing for larger arcs to form and create more visual interest.

The exposure is 30 seconds long, ISO 800 and F/4.5 – a lot of light is required to make this image! What you’re seeing is not an instantaneous discharge, but the probabilistic path that the corona discharge would take over time. Shot with the Panasonic Lumix GX9 and the Leica 45mm F/2.8 macro lens (my favourite combo), the image made itself once all the variables, carefully arranged for artistic purposes, were set in motion. The image was editing partly in Photoshop and more intensely in ON1 Photo RAW for the structure and lighting that that software excels and refining.

Kirlian Photography has origins in what I would call pseudoscience, trying to delve into the mystical/spiritual/religious/etc. aspects of “auras”. I don’t believe any of that. Because of these connotations however, the technique is rarely looked at from a purely scientific perspective. I’m not a scientist, but I love mixing science with art to create interesting photographs – and this is it. The corona discharge from a flower can be a thing of beauty. It literally electrifies the details to create something we might more closely relate to science fiction than science fact.

All said, this is what happens when you run nearly 30,000 volts through a flower on a sheet of plexiglass misted with water. The illumination from the discharge is enough to reveal the difference in colour from the center of the flower (yellow) to the petals (purple), which is a welcome enhancement to this type of photography that is usually one colour only. The flower was slightly less pressed against the right side of the frame, which creates an imbalance to the symmetry that I find useful in defining negative space.

Technology and science to create art. I’m in my element. 🙂

click image for larger version