A FORMER electrician has turned his job into art – by sending currents through plants, food and other everyday objects.
Bright spark Steven Penny, from Dunfermline, Fife, snaps incredible pictures of items being “electrocuted” in a process called Kirlian photography.
The technique involves putting an object on photographic film and sending 12V of current through it, creating a coloured “halo” of the image on the film.
The 30-year-old, who used to hardwire electricity cables at Sainsbury’s, has created pictures of dandelions, limes and even a spanner using the method.
He built his own device to allow him to capture the phenomenon, which creates such stunning pictures that many believe they are Photoshopped.
Steven has just been accepted into his third year of Photography at Fife College – but decided to attempt this as his own project at home.
He explains that he had no idea the pictures would turn out so detailed.
“The idea came about last year when I decided I wanted to do something a bit different,” he said.
“I researched the idea for about eight months and worked out all the components I would need.
“I wanted to link what I had learned as an electrician with what I’m doing as a photographer, and I’m really proud of how it has turned out – the pictures are really clear.
“All the components cost about £400, and I could only really afford to buy one piece a month, but it’s definitely worth it.
“They have had a really good reaction, though a lot of people think they have been photoshopped.
“Some may think I’m a bit mad – I’ve accidentally shocked myself a few times – but the amount of voltage I’m using won’t kill you.
“One of my thumbs does go a bit numb sometimes, but that’s about as bad as it gets.”
He promises that he only adjusted the contrast and reduced the amount of grain in the pictures to make them clearer.
His device consists of a metal conducting plate which sits beneath a thin sheet of glass. On top of this is a photographic film which the object is placed on.
When a high-voltage frequency is applied to the metal plate, the air around the object becomes ionized.
If the air contains any moisture, then the resulting image will show a glowing silhouette around the object – which scientists call a corona plasma discharge.
A similar process has been used in an attempt to capture the spiritual “aura” or “life force” which allegedly surrounds every living thing.
The most common objects photographed in this way are plants, insects and metal objects, though stunning pictures of a human hand have also been captured.
The most famous Kirlian photography experiment documents a leaf as it slowly dies. An initial photograph was taken when the leaf was freshly cut, and showed a prominent glow.
As the leaf aged, more photos were taken which showed the glow weakening – which some spiritualists explained as the “life force” of the plant ebbing away.
However, scientists have proven that the weakening glow is simply the result of the leaf losing water and drying up over time.