View Full Version : San Fransisco in November
Going to San Fransisco in November for the first time - not sure what the weather will be like and what opportunities I may have for landscapes, nature scenics, etc.
Any suggestions ?
The weather might be overcast and rainy. Golden Gate park might have landscape possibilities as will the fortout near the GG bridge.
The weather may be absolutely glorious. A little cool, ideal for spending time under the darkcloth. The rainy season doesn't really start until January.
I recently read there may be a small "El Nino" effect this winter, which may affect when rainy season starts. Generally, November is relatively nice though. (compared to my old digs in the snow-belt in PA, and New England winters in MA)
November is usually pretty nice in SF especially if its an Indian Summer. I was there last month and the road to Ft. Point was closed. If thats due to 9-11 security or earthquake retro fitting I don't know.
Be aware of tripod ordinances which seem to be selectively enforced.
If you want to shoot architecture and industrial type landscapes I'd recommend an afternoon at Mare Island in Vallejo---you can take a ferry there from SF. Contact the Mare Island Historical Society for a tour guide in advance(the island is "off limits" and regularly patrolled for tresspassers due to vandalism and theft because of all the tempting artifacts laying awound) Lots of cool waterfront.
All the SF Icons like Coit Tower, The Mission San Francisco, The Presidio, China Town, Lands End, Cliff House, Old St. Mary's, Ft. Mason, Golden Gate Park etc... are all worth visiting. Treasure Island offers a quintessential(or is that cliched?) waterfront view of SF.
Out in the 'burbs try exploring Alum Rock Road between San Jose and the Observatory, Muir Redwoods, and the necropolis of Colma if you've got the time and a car.
Try Scoma's at Fisherman's Wharf for seafood and Sinbad's for lunch for a great up close view of the Bay Bridge! Lou's House of Blues(again Fisherman"s Wharf) for music. These are well established tourist meccas and are easy to find, for more good places get the low down from a native as there are lots of great restraunts ticked away in quiet neighborhoods tourists never see(Bernal Heigths area comes to mind.)
If you have the time, drive 2 hours south to Monterey and Pt. Lobos.
Or north to Point Reyes (about an hour and a half from S.F.) Angel island is also very cool, with a bunch of interesting old military fortifications in various states of decay; fantastic views of the city from there too. Also, try Grand View park in the sunset district for terrific overviews; it's a lot less known than up at Coit tower, but the views are spectacular.
Weather-wise, it's always hard to say, but November is one of my favorite times to shoot around here; if it's clear, it seems to be REALLY clear...
I'd go north over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. There you find great beaches on Point Reyes, redwood forests in Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais and lots of other neat stuff. Point Reyes is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which is considered a national park so you might be able to contact the national park service and get some maps and brochures of it.
October/November is the best time of year to visit San Francisco and points nearby. Weather is traditionally the best in terms of fog, temperature and beautiful days (Summer being the worst) and the rainy season (what there is of it) doesn't usually start till December at the earliest (even with any El Nino effects).
As others have said, Monterey/Carmel/Point Lobos are a couple hours south, Pt. Reyes is an hour north, and there is lots in between. the Marin Headlands (just across the Golden Gate Bridge) is spectacular for vistas of the City and Bridge, and has some interesting military ruins. Angel Island has some nice areas, as does Alcatraz (check for Tripod restrictions on Alcatraz). If you can finagle entry to Filoli (www.filoli.org) during an "artists' access evening" it's well worth it. I also like to go our trolling for photographs along the small roads that twist through the Sacramento Delta regions (anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours east depending on explorations).
Good luck and have a great trip! D.
> Be aware of tripod ordinances which seem to be selectively enforced.
John, where did you run into this? I'm not aware of tripod ordinances anywhere in the SF Bay Area. A few places (Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower) do prohibit tripods, but the prohibitions are clearly indicated (I've heard that sometimes the tripod rules at the Tea Garden are ignored. Never have been for me, though ...).
Every suggested location is a good one. A few more: Conzelman Rd. in the Marin Headlands affords a good (if a bit distant) sunset view of the SF skyline; Municipal Pier offers a closer view. Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park is nice if that sort of thing is to your liking.
The weather can be great or miserable (more likley the former), and it can change rather quickly. The weather also can vary considerably throughout the City: it can be a sunny 75 deg in the Financial District and a foggy 50 in the western parts of the City. But that's part of the fun ...
That is Mt. Hamilton Road that goes from Alum Rock Park (the closed entrance) to the summit where the Lick Observatory is. I just took my daughters up there yesterday. One hour to go 24 miles. A taste of Dramamine is in order for those who get motion sick. The observatory itself is a stunning piece of architecture as well as an amazing engineering work for the date it was built. Did ja know James Lick was responsible for Ghiradelli coming to SF?
San Jose is beautiful in November. And going south, Gilroy and points east heading over towards Modesto and Yosemite is a very nice drive that time of year. Assuming we get no early rain storms.
I have heard stories about selectively enforced tripod regulations in SF. They don't seem to like them down in the Union Square area.
I would also recommend a catamaran ride out under the GG if the chop and swells aren't too high.
tim in san jose
The best destination for unspoiled nature scenics a few miles away from SF
are the hills, redwood forests, and coastline in Golden Gate Recreation area.
See http://www.danheller.com/marin.html (although he missed the
sea stacks of
Rodeo Beach (http://www.terragalleria.com/california/picture.usca9982.html)).
As mentioned by others,
if you are willing to go one or two hours away, there are great coastal landscapes, and November is in general a great month. If it rains or is foggy, Golden Gate park or Muir Woods would make great destinations.
Seen from a Western European point of view, the climate in San Francisco (CA ? ;-) is something really strange. Foggy in summer, clear in winter ;-);-) In 1990 when I was there, many days in October and November were perfectly clear with just enough sea fog for the classical Golden-Gate-in-fog-plus-blue-sky postcard ;-)
Probably the clearest day of all my stay was my last day on January 1st, 1991 ; I drove to the top of Mount Tamalpais, Marin County, for the best views I ever had over the Bay Area for 6 months. Simply gorgeous ! So to continue with what Tuan says, fog+rain: stop at Muir Woods ; perfectly clear : continue to the top of Tamalpais.
<html>Another word to fully second T. Obrien about driving up to Mt Hamilton and Lick observatory, in addition to all excellent advice already given which I fully support as a San Francisco uncompromising enthusiast !
Imagine, seen from French eyes, a place in the US where you can get excellent fresh baguette everyday, everywhere, together with top-class local wines and beers ;-);-).
To the Lick observatory, yes the road is extremely slow and winding (don't drink and drive !), but you find there some examples of the most magnificent Californian Oaks I've ever seen. They deserve the visit and possibly a LF picture.
And I remember at Lick observatory a huge B&W print showing a far distant view of the Sierra with the Half Dome clearly visible, taken with a long, long, focal length from the observatory on a clear, clear day. A stunning (large format camera ???) image indeed and probably the most unusual view of the Half Dome.</html>
I wouldn't place my hopes to high for the Sierra view from Lick. That B&W image
that Emmanuel mentions was taken many years ago when the air was cleaner, and anyways it would require a super-long lens which might not be practical in LF. Probably, using IR film will help with the haze, but when you don't see the subject with your eyes, it is difficult to point the camera !
In my opinion, the most interesting there is the
inside of the Lick observatory with the telescope (http://www.terragalleria.com/california/picture.usca10085.html), for which a wide-angle lens is a must.
If you are interested in
mountain top views and oak-covered hills, I would think Mount Diablo would be
more interesting than Lick. Regarding Union square in SF, if you appear to use a
professional looking camera, you might be told by the security guards that for commercial/professional photography you need to obtain a permit.
Regarding Union square in SF, if you appear to use a professional
looking camera, you might be told by the security guards that for
commercial/professional photography you need to obtain a permit.
It's been a long time since I've photographed around Union Square, but I've
heard similar baloney from private security types in other parts of the
city. A permit isn't required unless the photography is for other than
personal use and "interferes to any substantial degree with the ordinary
use and enjoyment of public streets or sidewalks." It's covered in Chapter
57 of the SF Administrative Code, which is included in the summary (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/photo-permits/)
of permit requirements on the LF Page. Quote this to the security guards
(who probably never even have heard of the Administrative Code ...), and
most probably will be sufficiently intimidated to leave you alone.
One other possible caveat: police are looking for a "middle eastern" man
who was seen
sketching and photographing (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2004/08/19/transamerica19.DTL)
the Transamerica Building last
I have no idea what might constitute "surveillance activity," but I'm
assuming, somewhat sadly, that the operative words are "middle eastern."
I've never been hassled by the SFPD in any part of the City, so this
this may be an isolated incident.
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