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Luck Favors The Prepared Photographing The Moon And Statue Of Liberty

Whenever photographer Mike Meyers (@mmeyers76) travels somewhere, he likes to check out the conditions for the sun and the moon in advance. “I always check before I travel somewhere to see if there might be any cool alignment shots with the sun or the moon behind any major landmark from a city or any other place that I might be traveling,” he says. When the Alpha Collective member recently traveled to New York City to meet up with the Sony community for Creative Space, he had the opportunity to take out the Sony Alpha 7R V, which he used to capture this incredible timelapse and images of the moon and the Statue of Liberty. We connected with him to learn more about the story behind how he captured it.

See how photographer and Alpha Imaging Collective member Mike Meyers created a timelapse of the conjunction of the iconic landmark and crescent moon with the new Sony A7R V and a G Master super-telephoto.

Luck Happens When Opportunity Meets Preparation

“There are a few different apps you can look at to check where the sun and the moon are going to be in the sky – like PhotoPills and Sun Surveyor,” Meyers explains. “I went through the apps and realized there was going to be a perfect alignment shot with this crescent moon behind the Statue of Liberty from the southwest corner of Manhattan. So I talked to a couple of other photographers and we decided to shoot it.”

After Creative Space activities they went downtown to the spot where they thought it would be, and it was overcrowded so they moved up as far toward the water as they could and set up their tripods to wait. He worked with creatives Quay Hu, Curtis Morgan and Dan Marker-Moore to set up in a spot where they thought there was going to be the perfect alignment.

Photo by Mike Meyers. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master + 1.4XTC. 1/25-sec., f/4, ISO 1250

Photo by Mike Meyers. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master + 1.4XTC. 1/25-sec., f/4, ISO 1250

“And we were right,” Meyers says. “Between the apps and just the knowledge of everybody that was there, I think we just kind of dialed it in. It doesn't have to be exactly perfect, that crescent moon could intersect the torch in the Statue of Liberty at any point and it would still be a really cool alignment shot. So we had a little bit of breathing room as it pertains to getting the perfect alignment shot.”

He continues, “The craziest part about it is that the weather cooperated. Normally for alignment shots like this, especially in the Midwest or East Coast, there are always clouds. It's just really rare to have a perfectly clear sky with no clouds or haze or anything on the horizon, but it was exactly like that. We got super lucky with those conditions.”

The Sony Alpha 7R V & A Super-Telephoto

Meyers set up his Sony Alpha 7R V with a Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master and Sony 1.4X Teleconverter on a tripod to capture the timelapse. He set the camera’s intervalometer to shoot at one-second intervals with settings of 1/25-sec., f/4 and ISO 1250, capturing the entire scene at just the right time and in those perfectly clear conditions.

“This lens and this camera combined, I was blown away,” he says. “It's ridiculous how perfectly crisp and clear everything looks through that thing. A lot of times people will ask me, 'Do you really need that much resolution?' Maybe not for every shot, but for a shot like this, absolutely. Because the image where it's the full frame of the Statue of Liberty with the entire thing in there, that's a really cool shot. But then I can crop into a much tighter section of that and it still looks great. Without those megapixels you don't get that crop, it’s going to fall apart or become pixelated if you're shooting with less resolution.”

He continues, “It's important and for time-lapses too, it allows you to crop way in on a time-lapse and get details that you're not going to be able to get with a sensor that doesn't have that resolution. So while it's not necessarily a must for every single shot you take, there's a lot of instances where it becomes really useful for you. Whether that's just cropping in on a still image to create another image, or having the flexibility to zoom way in and out on a time lapse to create a more dynamic end result.”

Playing With Perspectives

When looking at the timelapse and imagery, you might wonder how the moon is so big, or even if it might be Photoshopped into the scene. It’s all part of the effect from using the long lens, Meyers says. “From where we were shooting the Statue of Liberty was very far away,” he explains. “It was very small to the naked eye, but the moon looks roughly the same size from wherever you are. When you have the normal-sized moon descending behind the very small statue and you shoot it with a really long lens, you are magnifying both of those things by an extraordinary amount.”

He continues, “So the Statue of Liberty goes from being a very small feature, to when you zoom way in it then fills up the frame. Then the moon goes from looking normal size to a very zoomed in version. That’s what causes it to look so big.”

Photo by Mike Meyers. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master + 1.4XTC. 1/25-sec., f/4, ISO 1250

Photo by Mike Meyers. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master + 1.4XTC. 1/25-sec., f/4, ISO 1250

To get this kind of shot, Meyers says you want to be as far away from whatever object you're shooting it behind. “That makes it look bigger in perspective, and that's kind of task number one. It just worked out perfectly that the location for the alignment was really far from the Statue of Liberty, so the moon was going to look really big. So step one is just kind of finding the alignment, finding a spot that the moon is going to pass behind whatever object you're shooting, in this case, the Statue of Liberty.”

Then secondly Meyers says you have to think about what you want your end product to be. “I ended up taking a timelapse of this because it was close to sunset and there was still enough residual light on a few things. Since it was a crescent moon and not a full moon, it wasn’t as bright so it really worked in my favor for a shot like this. The dynamic range isn't as challenging as it could be if it was a full moon shot and it was a little bit darker at night. I just pulled out one frame of the timelapse and made a photo out of it, so kind of a two-in-one.”

See more of Mike Meyers’ work on his Alpha Universe Profile and on Instagram @mmeyers76.

Learn more about the new Alpha 7R V HERE.


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