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Northern California photo locations?
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Oct 9, 2018 01:41:31   #
taxman
 
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard

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Oct 9, 2018 02:30:17   #
the hiker
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard


P/U the book PhotoSecrets San Francisco & Northern California by Andrew Hudson this book will give you all the locations and infor. you need to shoot t/o the area .It gives you the top 10 sights and everything else you could want . This book new is $16.95 but I am sure you can find it used cheaper then that. Not only is it a great ref. book it is also a great book as a mem. of your trip. You can get this book at any good book store or look it up on the internet.Belive me this is a Great book to have. http;//www.photosecrets.com

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Oct 9, 2018 02:41:14   #
AndyH (a regular here)
 
San Francisco is just one giant photo op - literally every street has something of interest. Napa, Sonoma, and the coastal highway are also must see destinations.

I am a particular fan of Sacramento, where we are right now. Many street scenes in the neighborhoods, beautiful gardens, and interesting architecture.

The gold country - Sutter’s Creek and Amador County has some spectacular arid scenes, and old mining and railroad artifacts.

And of course Tahoe is nearby and spectacular.

NoCal is one if our very favorite places.

Andy

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Oct 9, 2018 04:36:09   #
SharpShooter (a regular here)
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard

To the south is Window Rock at Julia Phiefer State Park and check the tides and sunset at Bowling Ball Beach. Golden Gate Bridge from the Berkeley Pier.
It’s less than 4 hours to Yosemite!!!
SS

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Oct 9, 2018 06:40:39   #
Bipod (a regular here)
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard

It's a big place, and very diverse. The answer depends on your point of arrival and departure,
and method of transportation. In the most populous US state, wildlife can be a long way from
the airport. You're probably not flying into, say Modoc County.

It's too late in the year for the high country: Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. The national
parts are crowded and expensive, and any day now a storm could close the high passes.
The coast is beautiful, but likely to be cold, windy and wet. SF is always cold (but only
slightly more expensive than Manhattan). You're probably ahead of the big rains, but who
knows.

Assuming you're flying into SFO, you are smack in most congested center of a giant urban
sprawl, with traffic funneld by the Bay onto a handful of bridges. East of SF after the
coastal hills is the Sacremento Valley--50 miles wide and 450 miles long and filled
with stubble, billboards, and foreclosed properties (and a couple of good waterfowl reserves,
but nothing worth driving half way to Fresno).

To avoid spending all your time stuck in traffic or trying to cover hundreds of miles on the highway,
consider checking out the open spaces located in the Bay Area and to the south. There are huge open
spaces in the East Bay and in the Santa Cruz Mtns (which are extremely rugged, with with steep
canyons, redwoods, oak woodlands, and grasslands on the ridges).

I suggest you drive to SF, see the sights, then head South on Skyline Blvd along the ridge of the Santa
Cruz Mtns. Talk about views! This route follows the San Andreas Fault, so watch for slump ponds
and other signs of faulting. It takes you to the MidPennisula Regional Open Space District
https://openspace.org/ These parks are huge and very wild. if seen coyotes, bob cats, loads of deer,
and moutain lion tracks. You could make a series of day trips from SF, so you can enjoy some
civilization, too.

On Skyline Blvd just beyond Hwy 9 is Castle Rock State Park: a waterfall, strange limestone formations
called tafoni, and amazing views. https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=538

If you still feel adventurous, from Skyline Blvd take Hwy 9 south---a twisty mountain road that will
eventually take you to Felton and Henry Cowell Redwoods state park: BIG trees. From their you can
continue south to Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, you could head north on Hwy 1 to
Wilder Ranch State Park, https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=549
Rancho Del Oso/Waddell Creek State Park ,https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=863
Ano Nueovo State Park (sea lion preserve). https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=523
and eventually back to San Francisco on scenic Hwy 1 via Pecadero and Half Moon Bay.

Or take Hwy 1 south from Santa Cruz to Monteray (a rather boring drive, but worth it),
then on to Carmel and Big Sur. There are no better places to take seascapes than Point Lobos,
Point Sur, etc.
Robinson Jeffers wrote:

Return

A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.

I will go to the lovely Sur Rivers
And dip my arms in them up to the shoulders.

I will find my accounting where the alder leaf quivers
In the ocean wind over the river boulders.

I will touch things and things and no more thoughts,
That breed like mouthless May-flies darkening the sky,
The insect clouds that blind our passionate hawks
So that they cannot strike, hardly can fly.

Things are the hawk's food and noble is the mountain, Oh noble
Pico Blanco, steep sea-wave of marble.
--Robinson Jeffers, Carmel, 1934
br Return br br A little too abstract, a little... (show quote)

If the weather is absolutely awful you could drive down to the Monterey Bay Acquarium in
Monterey. Sounds dorky, but it's world class: photograph sea otters in their natural environment
from 10 feet away, or a great white shark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thGkL-yk7bg
You'll feel like Jacques Cousteau--without getting your feet wet. I've taken people from Japan
and from France there and they were blown away. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

This is a tour though Jeffers, Steinbeck and Neil Young country (well, until recently).
It's a region where, only 150 years ago, 10 different Native American tribes spoke languages
belonging to 6 different language families (the most language diversity anywhere
except New Guinea and Australia). It's the Northern California that locals love.

Enjoy your trip!

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Oct 9, 2018 07:38:47   #
JohnSwanda (a regular here)
 
If you do get down to the Monterey area, check out Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, one of the most beautiful meetings of land and sea in the world. It was a favorite of Edward Weston and other great California landscape photographers.

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Oct 9, 2018 10:04:38   #
via the lens
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard


Hi Howard,

As someone has so succinctly said, you will be in the heart of urbanization, city sprawl, and tons of traffic anywhere you want to go. I live in the foothills of California so have some idea of the issue at hand. Three or four days is not a lot of time to discover California as the state is long and diverse. You will need to make some difficult choices. One choice is Yosemite NP. I was just there and try to get there 3 or 4 times a year. I like to photograph the dogwood trees changing color in the fall and there was some color, but a large tract of dogwood trees that I would normally photograph were, sadly, fire-damaged. Mid-day in the park does not offer much. An evening shoot there offers a lot more. You can shoot water along the bridge at Bridalview Fall or possible some milkweed, as I did, but there really is not a lot there to shoot this time of year. In general, the park is not a wildlife-oriented park. If you were lucky, you could get a storm over Tunnel View. But it is always wonderful to see. I especially like photographing on Carmel Beach, various beach scenes of dogs and people and lovely sunsets. A nice town to visit and/or stay in. The big redwood trees can be found to the north of the city in various towns. Lots of beach scenes both north and south, but takes some planning and some driving and it can be difficult to find scenes from the road. When in the city photographing the Golden Gate bridge is always fun, try it from the north side of the bridge. Others may have special spots they photograph from. City life is fun to photograph, but I would be very careful carrying expensive gear in the city. Weston beach is a good choice for beach and sea life shots, but check a tide chart to be sure the tide is out so that you can get there when it's good to shoot. Bay area parks can be a wonderful place to go for photographs. Simply driving the coast and looking around might be your best bet.

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Oct 9, 2018 10:05:03   #
ltj123
 
Hwy 1 has the ocean and Redwoods. Was there about 10 days ago.

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Oct 9, 2018 11:39:44   #
pmorin (a regular here)
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard


As another has mentioned, I would suggest a day trip into wine country. Napa or Sonoma is within a few hours of driving from San Francisco and in each location you have these marvelous hills full of vines that are now or have just started to change colors for fall. There is the added benefit of really good restaurants in those areas. Plus you can do a little wine tasting along the way. All in all a fun day for you and the wife.

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Oct 9, 2018 15:58:53   #
Photocraig (a regular here)
 
If part of your trip is to the Silicon Valley, I'd like to suggest a largely unknown but beautiful park. Shoreline Park is in Mountain View, at the, you guessed it, Shoreline exit. The bayfront wetlands host many species of birds and other wildlife. Golden Gate Park, the well known urban park in SF is a photo creer in itself, PLUS 2 Art museums, a Japanese Tea House and Garden and lots of space to roam. There's also a wonderful Japanese Tea House and grounds at Hakone Gardens outside of Saratoga in the Silicon Valley.

The Marine Layer That's FOG to the rest of us provides some of the best diffused light available anywhere outside of a Studio. "The world's Largest Softbox." Take the ferries for a reasonably priced offshore point of view of the skylines and bridges. Angel Island is an excellent and uncrowded destination. Also the campuses of UC Berkeley, Stanford and UC Santa Cruz (home to the Banana Slugs). The California 1 highway (Pacific Coast Highway, PCH) provides another career of photographs. North of San Francisco and South to LA with Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and Monterey in reach.

You can focus on the over crowded urban scene for Street and architectural and "Social Issues" if you want. Keep alert. But there's more than enough to fill a few lifetimes of photography interests, go pick a few. There are even some good outdoor Pick up basketball courts where some top flight College talent past and present put on a great show. AND you don't need a Press Pass. Ask at the Footlocker or other such athletic wear place.

Have fun and look for the image beyond the environment. Another book, Galen Rowell's "Bay Area Wild" is a good guide, inspiration and an outdoor photography tutorial in itself.

Among the best views of San Francisco is from the Claremont Hotel in the Berkeley hills. Great food, cocktails and an expansive deck and grounds. Also, views can be found in Sausalito and Tiburon to the North over the Golden Gate bridge or by ferry. The new section of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge is stunning. Probably shot best from Treasure Island and the aforementioned ferries. The Ferry Building is quite photogenic too, and, and the restaurants and shops attract an interesting group of subjects for candids or "street." Sharpshooter has posted a few great images of the bridge.

Have fun, watch your step and eat well.
C

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Oct 10, 2018 06:39:15   #
Wanderer2
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard


I lived 22 years of my life in N. Calif. and, speaking very generally, my favorite areas for landscape photography are the ocean and the mountains. Both of these are, at least in part, within 4 hours of San Francisco. The already mentioned Highway 1 both north and south of S.F. has many fantastic sites for photography. The Sierra Nevada also. I would suggest researching these areas for specifics before you go. Have a great trip.

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Oct 10, 2018 07:20:35   #
twillsol
 
taxman wrote:
Hi all,

I will soon be traveling to Northern California for a week and am looking for suggestions for photo locations. We'll have a car and are pretty flexible in where we go. I'd like to stay within ~3-4 hours of San Francisco. We like nature photography and primarily shoot landscapes and wildlife. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Howard


Just drive up the coast on Hiway 1 all the way to Oregon. Hundreds of photo ops on the way.

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Oct 10, 2018 09:13:45   #
FrumCA (a regular here)
 
If you decide to go north across the Golden Gate Bridge be sure to include Muir Woods in your itinerary.

"Muir Woods -
Only a few miles north of San Francisco, in a isolated canyon, grows the ancient coast redwood forest known the world over as Muir Woods. The park offers solitude, interpretive displays and programs, and numerous hiking trails. Come troll through 1,000 year old giant trees towering 260 feet high and find out why famed naturalist John Muir called this… “…the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.”

Note: Muir Woods is a National Park so an entrance fee is charged. If you have a national park pass be sure to bring it with you!!

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Oct 10, 2018 09:15:54   #
JohnSwanda (a regular here)
 
FrumCA wrote:
If you decide to go north across the Golden Gate Bridge be sure to include Muir Woods in your itinerary.

"Muir Woods -
Only a few miles north of San Francisco, in a isolated canyon, grows the ancient coast redwood forest known the world over as Muir Woods. The park offers solitude, interpretive displays and programs, and numerous hiking trails. Come troll through 1,000 year old giant trees towering 260 feet high and find out why famed naturalist John Muir called this… “…the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.”

Note: Muir Woods is a National Park so an entrance fee is charged. If you have a national park pass be sure to bring it with you!!
If you decide to go north across the Golden Gate B... (show quote)


Muir Woods also now requires advance reservations as parking is limited. Google their web site.

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Oct 10, 2018 09:35:05   #
FrumCA (a regular here)
 
JohnSwanda wrote:
Muir Woods also now requires advance reservations as parking is limited. Google their web site.

Thanks for the tip John. Used to live in the area but haven't been there in quite some time.

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