Detail of Kirlian photograph of Chickweed leaf, 12 October 2005.
© Sara Smith / Science & Society Picture Library
The process of Kirlian photography is named after Seymon Kirlian, an amateur inventor and electrician of Krasnodar, Russia, who pioneered the process in the early 1940s. Kirlian photography is the corona discharge phenomenon, which takes place when an electrically grounded object discharges sparks between itself and an electrode generating the electrical field. When these sparks are captured on film they give the appearance of coronas of light. The discharges can be affected by temperature, moisture, pressure, or other environmental factors. In paranormal circles this method is seen as visualising an object's 'aura', and is used as a diagnostic technique in some alternative therapies.