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Thread: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monterey

  1. #11

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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Thanks! Take a note of the chimney rock trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Zhang View Post
    There is a Hostel inside the Point Reyes and it is really clean and quiet. Chimney Rock trail at Point Reyes has beautiful views. You could 1-2 days there.

  2. #12

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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Good suggestions, thanks!


    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Vogt View Post
    Plenty of beaches around (notable or not), Carmel Mission....and I'd check Carmel Valley Road. The mission may require entry fee (?), which was not the case when I was there. If you have enough time, slide down to Pfeiffer State PK for a sunset - not far from Monterey. Hmmm, forgot about 17mile Drive that offers more sea scenes and secluded beaches - there is a fee attached to that one.

  3. #13
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Some weekends have restrictions on parking along the Chimney Rock road. Once past North Beach, the road bifurcates, one direction leading to the Lighthouse, the other toward the Boathouse and Chimney Rock. Getting down onto the beach anywhere beyond the boathouse is risky - believe me, I've done it many times with an 8x10. But there are wonderful views both direction from the cliffs. I don't know if the Drake's Beach area has been reopened from storm damage or not. But the Lighthouse branch of the road ends with straight down views of sea lions, wonderfully tafoni-weathered sculpted rock formations near the road, and a long set of stairs to the Lighthouse itself.
    Way across the arc of Pt Reyes you can find, along a different road, Abbots Lagoon and Kehoe Beach, and at the end of the road, fascinating old ranch buildings and the trail to Tomales Point. Every one of these destinations is likely to take up an entire day by itself; so enjoy quality time and photography selectively, because there's just no way to take it all in at once. Limantour Beach is another wonderful location if you want a long sand spit walk with harbor seals popping their heads out of the water, holding Nikonos camera between their flippers, and taking shots of you. This is a lot closer to SF than the Monterey area, but you really have to choose one direction or the other, either N on Hwy 1 into Marin County, or south on 1 toward Santa Cruz, Carmel, Big Sur, etc, unless you have quite a number of days. The choice might get pre-determined any time in winter by another highway landslide.

  4. #14

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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Will drive on it a little bit. A good suggestion, maybe reservoir for next time. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    I was going to suggest Highway 1 as it has magnificent driving and views.

    I drove it twice 45 years ago, with places to stop often enough. It just reopened.

    This story does not do it justice.

    https://www.visitcalifornia.com/road...ay-one-classic

  5. #15
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    One day at Chimney Rock I watched a gray whale wander into the clear shallows of Drake's Bay right below it, and just cruise around a couple hours before exiting, as if itself a sightseer. Last year I finally figured out how to print an extremely subtle but hue-rich 8X10 Ektachrome fog shot I took from the tiny Chimney Rock beach back when it was still marginally accessible at low tide via a deer path along the cliff, now washed away. I won't go into details about the print, but it was via a tricky contact interneg. That short trail is especially beautiful in May with its wealth of wildflowers. Never crowded. Never disappoints.

  6. #16
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Someday come up to northern California! Have a great trip!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  7. #17
    Angus Parker angusparker's Avatar
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    LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monterey

    With the rain comes the clouds. You can get great clouds skies this time of year. Early morning at the Twin Peaks viewpoint looking down Market to Downtown San Francisco can be glorious. Kind of depends on the wind for LF. Now we have the Salesforce building (somewhat less affectionately nicknamed after a certain object you could buy in a sex store) there is a new skyline.

    Angel Island SP is worth a day trip taking the first and last ferries which in the winter might mean leaving or returning to Tiburon rather than Fishermanís Wharf. Great views of the Golden Gate but lots of abandoned buildings and military buildings. Chinese holding camp (think Ellis Island with interrogations), Military Hospital, And Barracks.

    China Beach in China Beach SP in Marin Co. is a gem with old buildings, worn wood, and discarded fishing ropes. Fun to learn about the shrimping history of years gone past.

    As mentioned above, you can spend a lot of time getting to and touring around Point Reyes NHS. Iím partial to the old barn at the north area in the Tule Elk reserve and shots across Tůmales Bay from the parkís beaches. Also Drakes Estuary and the more famous sights in the South are popular for a reason.

  8. #18
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Er... Twin Peaks? A serial killer from there was taken alive from my own front lawn after a 2 hr standoff with an FBI SWAT team. He killed at an entire family for their SUV atop Twin Peaks, then was spotted two weeks later at a gas station on this side of the Bay, starting a high speed chase that happened to turn onto my street. Police chase cars boxed him in, so he tried driving around them across my lawn. Egad. And it's not the first such incident at Twin Peaks by any means.

  9. #19

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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Some suggestions based on my first trip to California about 2 months ago. We never went to Muir Woods, but loved the smaller Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, less touristed, and all old growth redwoods. I loved Pt. Lobos, not only as a pilgrimage to Weston's "hunting grounds," but for the sheer beauty of it. They restrict the number of cars allowed in, so arrive early morning, preferably not on a weekend. If you can do a short hike with your camera & tripod, I recommend the Cyprus Grove trail, a fairly short loop with some breathtaking views. We did a bunch of other trails, including the North Shore trail out to the Whaler's Cabin, but unless you love hiking carrying camera equipment, the Cyprus Grove trail is the one I would use for photography, In Monterey, starting at Customs House Plaza, there is a historic trail (city streets) that takes you to a number of historic houses, most of which have very nice & photogenic gardens out back. And if you are driving south from Monterey, several posts already mentioned U.S. 1 (the PacificCoast Highway) down through Big Sur. There are frequent turnoffs with impressive ocean views, allowing you to take your equipment out of the car and capture the seascapes. And one last thought, there is a chain of 21 Spanish Missions, again very photogenic, just google "Spanish Missions in California" and see which might fit your itinerary. There is one in Santa Cruz (which you mention on your itinerary) but we skipped that one because it is a "scale reproduction" of the original which was detroyed by earthquake, and there are many truly original missions left.

  10. #20
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: LF photogenic sites in San Francisco, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Santa Cruz, Monter

    Our son lived in Silicon Valley for a number of years, and that gave us a reason to visit the area regularly. Some additional suggestions and thoughts -

    South of San Francisco:

    Mission Carmel - this is one of the original Spanish missions, and unlike the Santa Cruz mission, this is an original structure. The last time we were there, there was no restriction on photography other than to not disturb services - it is an active church.

    Point Lobos State Park - to reiterate Peter's concern - they limit the number of cars allowed in each day, so get there early (I think the gate opens at 8:30). The trails are nice, but if you are tired of schepping an LF camera, Weston Beach is an interesting place to photograph rock details, and you can park a few feet away from the beach.

    Lick Observatory - this is classic old observatory is in the mountains east of San Jose, at the end of a very narrow, twisted road. Be careful on the drive - the road is a favorite for mountain biking nuts.

    Silicon Valley - this is a love/hate situation - there are some interesting places (and fabulous restaurants) in Silicon Valley, but it is horrendously congested and traffic is awful. Stanford University has a pretty campus (a former nut farm although some will say that little has changed - - -), the Cantor Gallery at Stanford has a great collection of Rodin sculptures), the Computer Museum in Mountain View is fabulous, etc.

    Wineries - Napa Valley is not the only place in the area with wineries, and there are several near Saratoga, CA that are actually far better than the highly commercialized places in Napa and Sonoma.



    In San Francisco:

    Street scenes - it's not all that unusual to see street photographers with LF cameras in San Francisco. Schlepping a big camera with those hills is a workout! Be sure to hit Fisherman's Wharf

    Alcatraz Island - even though crowds will be much smaller in the winter, you should book ahead to get on the first boat of the day.

    Fort Point - this Civil War fortification is directly beneath the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge and is a great place for photography.

    Legion of Honor - this is an art museum in the Golden Gate Recreational Area (which also includes Lands' End) that is architecturally interesting and that holds some really great art.

    Land's End - this area on the extreme Western end of the City has classic views of the Pacific, as well as the ruins of the old Sutro Baths

    Golden Gate Park - the Japanese Garden is nice, and if you have time, the DeYoung Art Gallery and Museum of Science are fabulous - but will consume a lot of time.



    North of San Francisco:

    Marin Headlands - this is an old military base that has been repurposed as a park. There are a number of old fortifications that are great for photography. Battery 129 is a complex of tunnels and gun emplacements that never actually saw action - the technology became obsolete before construction was completed, but the remains make great photographs. If you want the classic image of the Golden Gate Bridge in the foreground with the City in the distant background, go to Battery Spencer. And for a change of pace, the Marine Wildlife Center is a hospital that specializes in treating ailing seals, walruses, sea lions, etc. Lots of wildlife in the area - fairly tame deer, bob cats, etc.

    Sausalito - this village at the north end of the Golden Gate bridge is scenic and a great place for shopping. Very active in warm weather, but it will be quiet in the winter. This is an old fishing village that 'grew up' around a WWII shipyard - the shipyard is no longer there, but there are lots of boats to photograph. And something that isn't well known is that there is a scale model of San Francisco Bay in one of the old shipyard buildings that was built to conduct studies of tidal action in the Bay - it's open to the public and provides a more intimate view of the expanse of that body of water.

    Angel Island - this island was a military base, but it's more famous role was as the port of entry Asians immigrating into the US (ie, it was the Ellis Island of the West). It can be reached by ferry from either Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, or Tiburon on the north side of the Bay. There are more ferries to/from Tiburon. It's well worth a visit

    Muir Woods - for the giant redwood trees. You may need to book ahead to have a place to park. Crowds will be smaller mid-week and in the winter.

    Napa/Sonoma - great for wineries. We've done both, and prefer Sonoma because it's less crowded and the wineries are less commercial. Great restaurants in this area. Some of the wineries are good photographic subjects, but some are just tin warehouses.


    Caution: there is no toll northbound on the Golden Gate bridge, but there is a toll (around $6 the last time we were there) when traveling southbound (into the City). However, there are no toll collectors. Instead, it is expected that cars will be equipped with transponders (eg, EZ Pass) to register and collect the toll. For cars that don't have transponders, toll collection is done by capturing the license plate number and issuing an invoice. Most of the rental car companies use a contractor to pay these tolls; the ways they work is that if your rental crosses the bridge, the contractor will bill you for the toll plus a service charge for each day of the rental contract. That service charge can easily be several times the cost of the toll. You can avoid that service charge by going on-line to register your rental with the Golden Gate Bridge Authority - you enter the plate number of the car, the period of the rental, and your credit card number, and any tolls charged during that rental period will go directly to your card rather than to the toll collection contractor used by the rental car company.

    There are alternate routes to Marin/Napa/Sonoma that involve first going over to the East side of the San Francisco Bay, and then driving north. There are tolls on these routes also.

    Final point - take money. San Francisco is expensive!

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