Image modulation in corona discharge photography

Science. 1976 Oct 15;194(4262):263-70. doi: 10.1126/science.968480.


Photographic images obtained by the Kirlian technique are principally a record of corona activity during an exposure interval. Most of the variations in the images of the corona of a living subject who is in contact with the photographic film can be accounted for by the presence of moisture on or within the subject's surface. During exposure, moisture is transferred from the subject to the emulsion surface of the photographic film and causes an alteration of the electric charge pattern on the film, hence the electric field at the surface of the subject. As a result, large variations in the density of corona images, corona streamer trajectories, and image coloration can be brought about. The radial extent of corona images--that is, the range of corona streamers--is an inverse function of the resistance in the circuit formed by the high-voltage supply, the subject, and the film-electrode configuration. This is because the voltage at which corona is initiated is dependent on the rate of rise of the voltage impressed between the subject and the electrode, and the rate of rise is governed by the applied voltage waveform and the voltage drop across the resistance. The range of streamers is proportional to the corona onset voltage. However, we have not seen any influence of large changes in skin resistance on streamer range. Presumably, this is due to the shunting effect of skin capacitance. In general, the photographic response to moisture suggests that corona discharge photography may be useful in the detection and quantification of moisture in animate and inanimate specimens through the orderly modulation of the image due to various levels of moisture.

MeSH terms

  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electricity*
  • Fingers
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Gases
  • Humans
  • Photography*
  • Surface Properties
  • Temperature
  • Water


  • Gases
  • Water