"SUNSET" Crop Circle in Riesenstain, near Züschen, Germany
found May 20, 2002
I visited my first crop circle in Germany, May 20, 2002 in Riesenstain, near Züschen. We were just in Grossraum, Kassel, taking a look at the previous formation with Wolfgang Schötter and Klaus Listmann (CC investigators in Kassel), when FGK´s Dirk Möller contacted us by mobile, telling he had just discovered a new crop circle. Dirk's report and photos of the two small formations next to each other can be found at FGK website.
When I first entered the smaller part, shaped a little like a question mark, I was quite bewildered by the quality of the "lay". Assuming first that this was a fresh formation, it was fascinating to notice the depth of the formation as compared to the surrounding crop was just some 20 cm. Indeed, at the first glance it seemed as if the crop in the formation had grown shorter than in the rest of the field. The first excitement was soon enough gone, when it came apparent that the crop had been originally laid down flat at ground level and then grown up again. This meant, of course, that the pattern had been there for some time already.
Based on the information from the farmer (who was annoyed at people entering his field, but eventually accepted to give researchers the permission to enter, strictly prohibiting other people), the formation couldn't have been there for much more than a week. I found it a bit hard to believe that the flattened crop could have grown so high in such a short time, but this was the time when it was indeed growing very fast, aided with the optimal weather conditions.
The pictures above show how the stalks have bent in two steps (at two node points) from horizontal to vertical. You can also see how the lowest part of the stalks are dried (the yellowish colour), while the upright parts are fresh green.
The most interesting thing that was observed was with the photos taken from the two formations. I tried to take poleshots with my digital camera using Wolfgang's pole, but each time I tried the pictures got spoiled because of unexplained overexposure. Interestingly, the same happened to Dirk, who managed to get only one good picture, which is displayed at the FGK site. This kind of radical overexposure (or, to be more precise, the picture being mostly white) has never happened before with my digital camera, in ANY lighting conditions. If I understood it right, Dirk said the same regarding his camera (much more professional quality than mine).
Wanting to learn more about this camera failure, I shot pictures to other directions to see if the same fault would appear again. Shooting poleshots from the space between the two formations seemed to systematically produce the same overexposure. I then took a photo towards the formations from the edge of the field (without the pole) and STILL the same effect was seen (which was strange since the pictures I took in the first place, before entering the field, were quite OK). I then took a series of pictures, panning from left to right, covering about a 120 degree view, at both sides of the crop circle. Odd enough, now ALL the pictures were faultless.
Apparently then, the overexposure was not due to the lighting conditions, which remained pretty much the same during the time the photos were taking, with the exclusion of the sun going lower (we were there from about 6 pm. to 8 pm). Since the same effect occurred in two digital cameras, used by two photographers, obviously this was not a fault in the camera either. It will be interesting to see the 3D stereo photos that Wolfgang shot with a traditional camera!
As for now, I can only conclude this was one of those mysterious camera malfunctions often observed in connection to crop circles.
Veli Martin, May 28, 2002