Shooting San Francisco

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by pibrahim, Jul 30, 2007.

  1. pibrahim

    pibrahim TPF Noob!

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    Hi all,

    Am off to San Francisco in a couple of days time and will be looking to get some obligatory sunrise / sunset photos of the city. Can anyone recommend a couple of good places to do so? Am assuming that somewhere north of the Golden Gate Bridge will be a starter, but any specific advice would be much appreciated - particular locations, whether they're better for sunrise, etc...

    Many thanks, and apologies if this is OT; seemed the most appropriate forum to post to.
     
  2. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Part 1 of 2.

    Very abreviated version of guide my wife wrote for her cousin
    GETTING AROUND:

    Public transportation is excellent- there are 3 and 7 day tourist passes that are really worth the price. Learn where the Tenderloin area is and stay out of it (Near Eddy and Turk I think). Don't take bus routes that require you to transfer within the Tenderloin. - It is a sleazy nasty area with lots of street crime. Some specific places south of Mission Street are dangerous but any cab driver can steer you correctly. I don't know how the Western Addition is now but it used to be bad. Get a good map and all these places will be on it.

    Driving in the city - Don't. Traffic can be slow and parking is bad horrible. You may want to get a rental car to go outside the city to some specific beautiful sites. There is a Budget pickup and drop-off right near Union Square. You can pickup downtown and drop off at Airport (no additional cost, I think) but parking at Hotel is $$$$.

    We love San Francisco for 3 reasons. The beautiful places to see, the incredible variety of wonderful restaurants and our kids who still there.

    Restaurants: - Do not go out for major dining anywhere that is advertised in the materials for tourists or on Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf area. The food will be over-priced and not nearly as good as restaurants for the locals. The huge number of restaurants (usually over 4500 in the city) makes competition for price and taste keen (42 pages of them in the yellow pages). Many of these places are not fancy just good. There has been a paperback available called the Underground Gourmet that sorts restaurants by type and area, excellent buy if you are going to be around the city a lot. Virtually any store front restaurant will be great. Also avoid Sears which is not your Craftsman headquarters, but a restaurant listed in all guidebooks as famous to San Franciscans for breakfast. We tried it. The lines were long and the food inferior...and there were only tourists there. Amazing what paid advertising will do for a business. Also since we lived there many delivery services have come up that will go around to different places and pick food up for you - nice for exhausted tourists. Check phone book under restaurants.

    We have always liked:

    -Chinatown - 10 minute walk North from Union Square on Columbus (through Columbus St tunnel) - definitely try to go on Saturday morning. The place bustles so much with local flavor, you think you could be in Asia. Live chickens and rabbits in crates on the street (they kill them for you), Chinese pharmacies, unidentifiable vegetables and fish, roasted ducks hanging on hooks, lots of short Asian people pushing and shoving. The street signs are also in Chinese - an experience. The best place to buy hand crocheted tablecloths, or cutwork stuff, Chinese slippers and little purses, silk Chinese quilted jackets. Fun.

    -The Hang Ah Tea Room - 1 Pagoda Pl 982-5686 - at the end of Chinatown closest to Union Square, next to the Chinese playground - the oldest Dim Sum house in the city, at lunchtime (not sure if they serve dim sum at other times) waitresses come around to the tables with tray after tray of small dishes of appetizer portions of just about every Chinese appetizer there is. You pay by the number and shape of the dishes you accumulate on your table. Tsing Tao Chinese beer is available all over and is excellent.

    -North Beach- the "Little Italy" of San Francisco - A short walk North from Chinatown, across Broadway which is "the strip."

    [The strip - Broadway - Lots of girlie shows and a pretty good female impersonator show at Finnochio's (506 Broadway) that has been there for a million years. Not a dangerous place just loud and fun - many tourists. Barkers in the doorways try to get you interested in their shows. Worth a little walking around but then walk North on Columbus.]

    -Cafe Trieste - on Grant North of California. A local place to go for excellent coffee. Very famous in city for their roasting (You can buy a pound to two to take home, or have it UPSed). I find their Espresso a little bitter, however, the attraction was that the owners occasionally break out into serenades of opera for the patrons. Call to see it they do this on any schedule. 601 Vallejo 392-6739 (Interesting places to browse here on upper Grant)

    -Caffe Roma 414 Columbus - Also in North Beach - good pastries and coffee drinks of any kind. Interesting looking place, a few doors down is a great Italian import place (potteryware).

    A typical walk for us might start at Union Square, through the Chinese gates into Chinatown, across Broadway to Columbus (North Beach) all the way down to the fisherman's wharf area so I (Jack) can go to Cost Plus (unusual, cheap, imported jewelry - nice place for gifts to bring home). Could be 1/2 a day or more walk with stops.

    PLACES TO SEE:

    In the city - all available by Bus or street car or subway.- get BUS map.

    Fort Point, the Presidio and the Golden GateBridge walk. A bus to the Golden Gate will drop you off in the parking lot. You can walk out onto bridge, walk back along the heights of the Presidio to see the outer Bay (The view of the Bridge and the hills of the outer bay at sun-down is just stunning) and down the hill to Fort Point - Civil War era fort which defended the harbor. Part of Mel Brooks "Vertigo" was filmed here (the phone booth scene). And of course the movie "The Presidio" was filmed on the base. Often you will see surfers off this point. You could also see this on your way over to the Marin Headlands if you choose to rent a car. The Headlands are just over the bridge and definitely worth it.

    The Marina Area, Marina Green, St Francis Yacht Club and FortMason. - The Green is a huge open area, right on the Bay, abutting the Presidio and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful living areas in the area. At one end, tucked in the corner next to the Presidio is the Palace of Fine Arts, a beautiful building transported there after the Exposition of 1929 (sic?) which now houses the Exploratorium, a great science museum. This has been the site of more movies than can be counted and you will certainly recognize the front of the building and the ponds from the movies.
     
  3. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Part 2 of 2

    Alcatraz
    - sounds like a hoaky tour, but is actually very interesting. You go over by boat from the Fisherman's Wharf-Pier 39 area. Be sure to take a jacket as it is always cold there.

    Besides Chinatown and Little Italy, there is JapanTown. This is adjacent to areas call Pacific Heights which is lovely neat residential areas with lots of shops and restaurants. Absolutely terrific Japanese imports. Expensive. And, of course, sushi the way it's suppose to be done.

    The Castro - Out along Market Street - A MUST SEE- Should be seen on Friday or Saturday night or on a pleasant, weekend afternoon. This is SF gay life at its most overt. Be prepared to be in the minority (if you are straight). Amy will be ignored and Paul may get cruised. Pleasant, fun and interesting. Neat shops, bars and restaurants.

    Nob Hill, Russian Hill - neat areas to walk and see - beautiful views of the city and the Bay. Do not pick up any lovely young girl hookers on Polk Street - they are all boys. This is another gay area, but not as refined as the Castro. Lots of leather here and stores like Sukkers Liquers and a bar called The White Swallow - no birds implied.

    Clement Street - 10 or 12 blocks of an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants of every type. This was our "neighborhood" when we lived there; it is adjacent to the Presidio and close to where we lived. This is a great stop on the Geary Bus ride out to Cliff House. Get off Geary bus at 1st Avenue and walk 1 block North to Clement then walk West. See this area if you have extra time - it's not super-special just another neat neighborhood to shop and eat and see.

    Don't forget the Haight-Ashbury area at the panhandle of Golden Gate Park (which is also lovely - see the tea garden). It's still in a time warp. Everytime we go into some cafe such as the Owl & *****cat?? we see people with long hair in Birckenstocks discussing some esoteric issue. Somethings never change. Fabulous t-shirt shop here.
    OUT OF THE CITY - car needed
    (all travel times are without traffic jams)

    NORTH

    Marin Headlands (20 min)- just across Golden Gate Bridge - take first exit after scenic lookout, go left under 101 back to South bound side of Route 101 - do not go back on 101, take Right up hill and keep on going. Bear to the left to the top for best scenery. This is where all the pictures for post cards of the Golden Gate are shot and if you can time it on a foggy day there will be hordes of professional photographers. Breathtaking anytime, but especially in fog which you would be high enough to be above. The tips of the bridge peak out above the fluffy rolling fog and with the movement, the scene constantly changes.


    BakerBeach - continue on over the hills after Marin headlands to beautiful impressive beach, rocks and climbing. Injured sea mammal sanctuary.

    Sausalito - little town just over bridge for eating and shopping (expensive and unusual). One of the most touted restaurants would be in the Hotel Casa Madrona, which is expensive. But there are many fine restaurants of which I cannot remember the names.

    Muir Woods (45 min) North over Golden Gate on route 101 - in about 5 miles you will see signs to Mill Valley, Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods. A glorious walk through BIG coastal redwoods. Very impressive as most people have never seen trees this big. If you feel good ask ranger about the walk that loops up above Muir woods onto side of Mt Tam. (Up hill to ocean side of park)

    Bolinas and StinsonBeach - (1 hour) Check map. Bolinas is a weird 60s throw-back town. There are usually no signs leading to the town - the residents tear down the signs as soon as the state erects them. Good natural food restaurant in town and neat shops. 30 miles and 30 years from SF.

    Guallala, Mendocino and NorthernCoast - 3-5 hours North along coast - beautiful ride. Great sights. Stay at St Orres in Gualala in one of the cabins. A hot gourmet breakfast is delivered to your door. Beautiful place, great sexy cabins- central hot tub, sauna, etc, unbelievable food in their gourmet restaurant (like quail sausage, grilled vegetable tarts and a espresso ice cream in a praline basket with hot fudge sauce to die for). The Mendicino Hotel in Mendicino is about as far north as you would want to go. Very nice place to stay, but last time there we stayed at a bed and breakfast (of which there are many) and it was elegant and not expensive. You can get a list of them when you get there or just walk around and see who has an opening. On the water.

    We should mention that the ride up the coastal highway is a bit tiring because of the concentration one must pay when driving it, but well worth it unless you are squeamish about heights. The views are amazing, the road being cut right into the sides of the cliffs. To save time and energy you can come back on the highway through Napa Valley.

    Wine Country -1 -2 hours North from city in Napa. Not our favorite place but most people really enjoy it. Lots of tourists in any nice weather so watch out for high traffic times. Wine tasting is considered a great sport, but since we don't drink really it doesn't hold the attraction for us. Three, maybe four, wineries are about as much as one can do and still drive safely. (unless, of course, you don't swallow as the professionals don't. Most tourists do swallow though)

    SOUTH

    Carmel, Point Lobos and Big Sur -(2 hours) - our single most favorite place to visit. We never go to California without visiting here. Worth every minute of the drive. Drive south past San Jose, visit Gilroy garlic stores. Gilroy is the world's leading garlic producer. Gilroy Pickled Garlic (in jars) is a great taste treat. Look for road signs to Monterey and Carmel. Roadside stands sell avocadoes/artichokes from the world's largest ranches for this sort of thing. Monterey is an old fishing village, site of Steinbeck's book. Try to miss Fisherman's Wharf - tourist central. Carmel - 10 miles further south is a classier neat, picture book town. Carmel is the place Clint Eastwood was mayor. He now owns a restaurant called Hog's Breath Inn plus a ranch B&B. We saw John Travolta there. A popular getaway place for stars.
    5 - 10 miles south of Carmel is Point Lobos State Park - an ocean environment park which is, by our estimate, the single most beautiful place in this area. Sandy and rocky and good view of seals and sea otters on small rock mountains. The ocean sprays are so dynamic on this coast that its worth stopping at any overlook you see. No comparison to the East coast at all.
     
  4. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Locations to shoot from:

    * The town of Sausalito, just north of the Golden Gate bridge on highway 101. Go to the waterfront...you can get shots of SF downtown from there. I think the road along the waterfront is Bridgeway, but it's been a while, so I might be wrong.

    * Twin peaks - Right next to Sutro Tower, offers a panoramic view of the city. Ask people how to get to Sutro Tower, and once there, ask how to get to the Twin Peaks overlook...or look it up on the internet.

    * Take a bay ferry from Fisheman's Warf, and take shots from the boat.
     
  5. cherrymoose

    cherrymoose TPF Noob!

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    I practically live in the city, and all of that was some very good advice. But to add on to the Marin headlands drive-- there's a certain spot up there, not too hard to find (it's pretty much directly above Fort Baker) that has some amazing photographic oppurtunities (mainly the Golden Gate Bridge). It's called 'Battery Spencer' and has some interesting history as well.

    Also, be sure to go to Portero Hill in McKinley Square. It's not a widely known place, but offers some excellent photo opportunities over the city and the bay.

    Good luck! :thumbup:
     
  6. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    all the above places are good. and yes, tenderloin is bad place. I had all bucks of my camera equiptment stolen out of a car there.

    by far, in my opinion, the best place to see the sun rise in SF is from Grizzly peak in the berkeley hills. Excellent view of SF and in the early morning, the sun is behind you and reflecting off the building in Downtown SF. while you cant see the sun rise, you do get its lovevly morning light bathing the city. also you get a pretty comminding view of sf, marin, oakland, berkeley etc etc. often times you also get to watch the fog bank move back out to sea.

    best place to go for sun sets is Mount Tamalpias. its high enough to be above the fog if it comes in and i've seen some good sunsets up there.
     

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