Planning a trip to San Fran this summer.. where to shoot?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ToddB, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Hey guys,

    Me and the family are planning a trip to San Francisco this summer and wondering where some good areas to go shoot. I like photographing people and inique areas. Anyone here from this area and have any good location in and around the area. Obscure places.. Maybe Castro dist?...Height Ashbury? Also keeping mine the the family too, so they wont be bored.

    Thanks ToddB
     
  2. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    Having lived in San Francisco for many many years I can safely tell you there will be no shortage of nice places to shoot.

    The Palace of Fine Arts was always a favorite of mine. There is a children's discovery museum right there which is fun if you have younger kids in your family and the surrounding park is very worthy of photographs. Right across the street from the Palace of Fine art is a lot of boat docks and a great view of the bay including the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is also a nice place. It is sandwhiched between the San Francisco Musuem of Modern Art and the big Sony Center (not sure the exact name these days) so you have both shopping and cultural interests on either side.

    Golden Gate Park is always nice if the weather is good.

    I honestly don't recommend Haight Ashbury. It's a complete tourist trap these days and very much filled with pan handlers and homeless. By myself I have no problem walking through it, but if I was with a family, especially young kids, I wouldn't bother.

    Chinatown in San Francisco is INCREDIBLE. Supposedly it's the largest Chinatown district outside of Asia. I believe it. Lots of fantastic food, things to see, unique shopping, and just great people watching in that district.

    Just across the Golden Gate on the north side of the bay there is a lot of nice hiking trails if you are looking for a quite moment away from the hustle of the city. Great views of the San Francisco skyline and the Goldgen Gate bridge can be found here a long with the remains of old military forts which make great photographs.
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I went there last summer. Fog and rain. I was more interested in nature than people. I headed south. Follow the coast as long as your time will let you. You won't regret it. Nice driving and beautiful coastline. I had one day to wander, so I drove down and spent time at Point Lobos (Think Edward Weston and his various iniquitous hippy chicks) near Carmel, Bixby Bridge, and drove back up via the farmland inland a bit (such as rt 101) to get back to my flight at San Jose. You can find cities anywhere in the world; you can only find coastline and rolling hills like CA has in CA.
     
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  4. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    I'm in SF once a year or so in business, I kind of like the streets around the Moscone/SoMa, and on a sunny day the park behind the cone, maybe coz I'm always "stationed" at the cone though...

    :smile:
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    There's plenty of people-watching in the Castro, and generally they ignore you if you look and act like a tourist (ie don't get intrusive into their personal space). I would NOT go wandering around the Tenderloin or Polk Street with kids in tow, but there's plenty of characters around there (be careful who you point your camera at, as the hookers, johns and pimps may not take too kindly to what they could mistake for police surveilance). The Mission district is a great spot for people-watching - along Valencia between say 15th and 20th (and you'll find a killer meal while you're in the neighborhood!). Take a drive out Geary Boulevard and pass through the Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian neighborhoods. For a quick break from the urban scenery, at the very end of Geary Boulevard, just before it drops downhill and to the left at Cliff House, turn into the parking lot on your right, above the ruins of the Sutro Baths. You can descend to the baths ruins, and walk on the beach to take in Seal Rock, then climb back up and follow the cliff-top trail along the coastal headlands of Lands End. It's a beautiful patch of total wilderness with the sea breezes, salt air, and the crying of the gulls, a few hundred yards from total urbanization. Go about a mile along the trail and you'll have amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Another terrific nature break from the city are the Open Space Preserves, halfway down the peninsula, between Half Moon Bay on the coast and Palo Alto on the bay side. Purisima Creek OSP is relatively easy to get to (head south on highway 1 through Half Moon Bay, turn left on Miramontes Road, right on Higgins Purisima Road, and enjoy the scenery until you get to the park entrance (there's very little parking at the entrance, so you'll probably have to park on Higgins Purisima Road or Purisima Creek Road and walk back)). You'll be walking through a grove of giant sequoias along a canyon carved by a stream with several waterfalls along its course, and there will always be banana slugs to entertain the kids. On the way back to SF, swing through Palo Alto, get something to eat on University Avenue, take a drive down El Camino Real to California Street and poke your head in Keeble & Shuchat to do a little camera shopping.
     
  6. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Wow!! Great stuff guys. Taking notes. Sounds like more stuff that I have time for. I know we are looking at 5 or 6 day there and then driving down Hwy 101 Costal HWY? I really want to check out Big Sur for some costal pic. I know that my mother in law whats to check out the wine country. I'm thinking there might be something there to take pics.

    Todd
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Highway 1 is the one you want. The 101 is inland of the coastal mountains and has a pretty bleh view for the most part. Wine country is north of San Francisco, and you can make a day trip out of it. I'd suggest getting one of those Gray Line bus tours of wine country if your MIL is setting the agenda for the day, plus you'll be able to consume at the tasting rooms of the vineyards without worry. I survived the experience without being too terribly bored as a 13-year old, so your kids will probably be able to tolerate it as well.
     
  8. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    If traveling outside of San Francisco is in the cards for you then yes, I highly recommend a trip down Hwy 1 along the coast. I would personally go south and make a pit stop in Santa Cruz for burritos and nachos (any taqueria will be amazing in that town) and then continue south until you get to Carmel.

    Carmel has a lot of art galleries and shops. Your family will enjoy the variety and you will enjoy one gallery in particular (Photography Gallery West) that has Ansel Adams and Ed Weston prints galor.

    And yes, avoid Hwy 101 if you are going south. That is the inland highwy and it's pretty boring. North of San Francisco Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 overlap at times, but not south.
     
  9. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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    If it were me, I'd drive east for 4 hours to YNP.
     
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Fort Point under the southern end of the Golder Gate Bridge -- the kids will enjoy it, also. A Civil War era fort guarding the bay...with displays, etc. Interesting building, gawking tourists and the GG Bridge. And free. I took the following from on top of the fort (4x10 negative, scanned carbon print).
     

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  11. FL Guy

    FL Guy Member

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    I did the San Fran trip about 6 years ago, in the city I didn't have much luck with family photos compared to 1-2 hours North (along coast and Sonoma) and 1-2 hours South (Carmel area). Chinatown is amazing as others have mentioned, but the coastal areas are incredible with the vistas in about any direction.

    It is fun to have afternoon sun coming from the water and the rugged coast as a backdrop, lots of kids running towards the waves on shore, and back, etc.

    I don't remember where you will be coming from, but a sweater and jacket(s) in No. Cali in August are suggested.

    Enjoy!

    FL Guy
     
  12. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Someone mentioned a children's museum at the Palace of Fine Arts. I think they are referring to the Exploratorium
    http://www.exploratorium.edu/
    But it has moved and will soon open at Pier 15 on the waterfront. A great place for kids of all ages, and for adults. Highly recommended, even without seeing the new place. It has been designed by the same firm that did the Monterey Bay Aquarium (another highlight going south), and the Exploratorium people pioneered the whole hands-on science thing, so it should be good.

    The Americas Cup sailboat racing is happening this summer. I don't know the schedule. Its main public relations area is right down the waterfront from the Exploratorium, and its main building and piers should be interesting without an actual race. In fact, the actual race days might be a good day to go away from the waterfront!
    http://www.americascup.com/
    Then head down to the Ferry Building for some nice food. Maybe keep heading south and catch a ball game at AT&T Park, or maybe they'll be simulcasting the opera with free admission.
    http://sf.funcheap.com/free-opera-ballpark-att-park/

    I'll agree with others- avoid the Haight Asbury. Tourists and panhandling kids and speed freaks.

    And the Fisherman's Wharf area- basically tourist country. If you do end up there, find the energy to keep going west along the waterfront. The Maritime Museum is at Aquatic Park, and the Hyde Street Pier is a collection of great old ships of all types. Go up to the community garden at Fort Mason, then down to the old piers where troops left the US for the Pacific theatre in WWII.

    Dolores Park can be a nice afternoon. On the edge of the hipster part of the Mission district. There are some interesting stores on Valencia that would entertain kids. The Dave Eggers literary/art project site at 826 Valencia is worth dropping into- interesting displays, items and books for sale, etc.-
    http://826valencia.org/
    Anyone into pirates needs to visit 826- http://826valencia.org/store/
    A few 'curiosity shoppes' with stuffed animals, skulls, bones, etc. further down the street Then head over to 18th Street and Pizzarea Delfina, then get some Bi-Rite ice cream and walk into the park. They recently renovated the playground at the south end- lots of families, musicians, etc. This whole thing- Valencia, Dolores Park, etc.- is a weekend thing for the crowds and energy. Somewhat monocultured, dominated by young techies.

    I would suggest avoiding the California Academy of Sciences. Expensive, small, not very kid friendly from what I have observed (I go there and photograph on free days, and notice the lack of engagement by most kids). Well, I'm just one person. If you are thinking of dropping a couple hundred bucks to go there, do some research and see what others have said.

    Angel Island is worth a visit. A ferry ride to it, then continue to Tiburon and eat at one of the waterfront restaurants. Then the ferry back to SF. Among other things, Angel Island was a major entrance point for immigrants from Asia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_Island_(California)

    Sausalito is another tourist trap, especially on weekends.

    Try not to wear shorts. If you plan to move more than five three blocks in one day, you will most likely end up in cold wind. Carry clothes for 50 degrees F and fog, no matter what it looks like when you head out.

    Oh, photographing people: almost no one cares. The only problems I have had are with street kids who see every encounter as a chance to hustle some money, and older Asian street people (not certain of the reason but am pretty certain it includes Chinese for 'fu** you' and other bodily manipulations). So many tourists, so many people using phones to post every other minute to instagram, just be aware, be ready to smile. And if you are shooting film, be ready to discuss your camera, films, etc....

    Oh yeah, speaking of film, there's a nice store in the Lower Haight area, Glass Key Photo. Facebook page only, but worth a visit if you get nearby. Near to Alamo Square and the 'Painted Ladies' houses, near Memphis Minnie's BBQ joint, Rookie Ricoardo's Record Store, Upper Playground if any of the kids like skateboards or street art...
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Glass-Key-Photo/119199231470385
     
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  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Oh, don't forget Pier 24!!! Fantastic museum devoted exclusively to photography, and it's FREE! Go on their website and book a time slot for visiting. You get a 2-hour time slot to peruse the exhibits at your leisure. It's one of the most interesting photography museum experiences you'll have.

    www.pier24.org
     
  14. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    And if you're into motorsports, Laguna Seca isn't far from Carmel.
     
  15. JonPorter

    JonPorter Member

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    Exploring the old defense batteries along Lincoln Avenue is fun, as is walking along The Embarcadero on your way to Pier 24. You can also walk out on Pier 1 and get dramatic shots of the ferry building with the city behind it, especially at night.
     
  16. CD55

    CD55 Member

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    One of my favorite parts of SF are the Greenwich Street Stairs and Filbert Street Stairs that are right across from Levi's Plaza on Sansome Street. They both lead up to Coit Tower and the houses and gardens along the way are very nice. Also great views as you ascend/descend. It is a bit of climb so if you or the kids aren't up to the challenge it might be better starting from Coit Tower and walking down. Plus Levi's Plaza isn't too far off from the Embarcadero and Pier 39.

    Also the Bay Bridge is now lighted up with thousands of LEDs that will be there until 2015. Here is a website about it.
    http://thebaylights.org/
     
  17. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Be ready to suffer thru some of the most frustrating times, going around and around and around while trying to find parking spaces on the street.
    Be ready to suffer thru some of the most expensive times, parking both on city streets and in public and private lots and garages.
    And be ready to suffer

    •Parts of San Francisco have meters which need $2 per hour, and need to be fed hour after hour or high risk of a parking ticket.
    •In some places, 'demand based' parking fees at meters can result in $6 per hour meter rates.
    •If you arrive before 8am, the meters will SEEM to be dead and therefore seem to be 'free'; but if you park there and fortunately come back at 8am, they will suddenly have woken up...so if you park at 730am and the meter reader comes at 8:15am and you failed to feed the meter at 8:01am, you will have a parking ticket!
    •If you park on the street at certain locations, you need to have a local resident parking sticker, or you will receive a parking ticket after 2 hours.
    •If you park on the street at certain locations, you might end up with a parking ticket because that side of the street is supposed to be clear on that day in order for street sweeping!
    •Certain streets become tow-away zones at peak commute hours.

    Take public transit to the popular spots, you'll thank me for saving you money and aggravation! You'll spend $5 merely on bridge toll and another $4 in gas, driving in on congested bridge and highways and around and around finding a parking place. And then feeding the lot or the meter quarters. $25 for three hours in a lot is not unheard of. Or, BART or AC Transit buses into SF from Oakland, and Muni buses and underground streetcars around SF.

    Look into a Muni Passport, $27 for 7 days; buy at Passport vendors (listed on line). Or $69 CityPass also gets Muni access and you get into five different attractions. Buy on line.
     
  18. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Lots of very scenic places quite close, less than 1 hour drive!
    Marin County:
    Belvedere and Tiburon and Sausalito and Marin Headlands, all looking back toward SF
    Stinson Beach, Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais, Muir Beach
    Point Reyes, Bolinas, Tomales Bay
    Bodega Bay (1.5 hr north of SF)

    Angel Island, Alcatraz, Treasure Island (all are interesting and have views of SF)

    Of course, there are the wine growing areas in Sonoma and Napa countries

    And just south of SF:
    Fort Funston area with hang gliding off ocean cliffs in the SW corner of SF
    Kite boarding and wind surfing to the immediate north of Coyote Point (30 miles south of SF)
    Hwy 1 coastside, including Pacifica surfing (15 min outside SF), Half Moon Bay (30 min), Santa Cruz (1 hr)
    __________________
     
  19. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    - Along the entire northern shore of San Francisco...
    Palace of Legion of Honor
    Fort Point
    the former Presidio
    Palace of Fine Arts
    Marina Green
    Fort Mason
    The Cannery
    Fisherman's Wharf
    Pier 39
    Alcatraz

    - Golden Gate Park
    Conservatory
    DeYoung Museum
    Asian Art Museum
    Steinhart Acquarium
    Japanese Tea Garden
    Windmills (near Ocean Beach)
    Strybing Arboretum


    - Inside San Francisco
    Lombard Street
    Twin Peaks
    Mount Davidson
    Chinatown

    Outside San Francisco (within 15 miles)
    USS Midway (Alameda)...famous aircraft carrier, now air musuem
    Sausalito
    Tiburon
    Marin headlands overlooking GG Bridge and SF skyline
    Muir Woods
     
  20. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Thanks for all the tips and location guys.

    ToddB