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SFO, Worth It?  
User currently offline5280AGL From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 414 posts, RR: 1
Posted (14 years 8 months 23 hours ago) and read 1848 times:

I am currently trying to decide on places to go to for my first photo trip. One airport that comes to mind is SFO. Is this place good for photos? I have seen some great photos from the viewing park near 1R/L, but I have heard that this area is no longer accessible do to construction? Also, what time of year would be best?

Any suggestions?



10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineNikonF100 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (14 years 8 months 23 hours ago) and read 1778 times:

The viewpark off Millbrae Ave is a worthless crap hole. The dranage ditch, combined with a tall fence make it hard to get good shots, if not impossible to get good shots.

I'd suggest the Intl terminal, and the AA terminal (gates 60-69). If no planes are parked at the end gates, then it's a great location for departure shots off 28R/L.

The TWA terminal is also good for 1R/L stuff...but the windows suck there.

Good luck!

User currently offline5280AGL From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 414 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (14 years 8 months 23 hours ago) and read 1764 times:

NikonF100, thanks for the info! I may be mistaken about the viewpark. I was thinking about the area where this shot was taken:

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Richard Silagi

Isn't this from the viewpark?


User currently offlineNikonF100 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (14 years 8 months 23 hours ago) and read 1763 times:


In all honesty, I don't know! Maybe Richard went through that dranage ditch?

Either that or he was on the ramp?

User currently offlineChris28_17 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 1439 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (14 years 8 months 17 hours ago) and read 1746 times:

Im interested to see how this post plays out, i noticed that there is a ORD-SFO flight once a day (united, my employer) on a 744 and i was thinking of taking a day trip out there, just to hop on a -400

(believe it or not, i've never flown on a 747, everytime i've tried, i got bumped... )

of course, i would stay and spot for a while till its time to go home!


User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (14 years 8 months 16 hours ago) and read 1740 times:

My shot was not taken from the view park. The view park is terrible for photos. The fence ruins everything. My shot was taken from a spot around the corner from the parking area on the other side of the blast fence. If you have a small enough lens you can shoot throught the fence. The problem with this spot is that if you stay there too long, the police will usually chase you out. It is probably not the safest place to be since it is next to a busy road with lots of speeding trucks and it is easy to get blasted by the jet blast here. I usually wait in the parking lot until something I want to shoot taxis out, then I walk around to the other side of the blast fence, get my shot and walk back to the parking lot.

Richard Silagi

User currently offlineLindy field From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 3170 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (14 years 8 months 6 hours ago) and read 1724 times:
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I never realized it was so difficult for you to get those shots, Richard. Keep up the good work!

User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (14 years 8 months 5 hours ago) and read 1722 times:

Yes to get the good shots, it does require a little bit of effort. More than just going to the airport, pointing the camera at airplanes and leaving.


User currently offline5280AGL From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 414 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (14 years 8 months 1 hour ago) and read 1707 times:


Would you recommend SFO as a good first-time photo trip? I know the terminals offer some great views, especially the international terminals but I would also like to try some locations outside the terminals as well.

At the other location you were talking about (where the VGD md-87 was), was that shot through the chainlink? I have been having a tough time trying to shoot through fences without getting it in the photo. I am currently using a Sigma 70-210mm (52mm) lens and a Nikon 35-70mm lens, but I can't seem to get those to work through chainlink.

Thanks for all the help!


User currently offlineNikonF100 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (14 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1695 times:


I have been through SFO many times, and it is a good place for a first time trip. There is a good deal of United crap that goes through there, mainly 737s and 757s. A few 74s and a few 777s, but overall it's really heavily Shuttle dominated. There are some interesting sites to see there though.

To shoot through a chainlink, I use the following technique. Put the lens right up to the fence, use enough zoom to shoot the plane, and allow a bit of room on all sides for cropping (eg: If you normally shot at 200mm for a 737 taxi, I'd suggest 150mm or 135mm). This will allow the fence to show up in the corners and be easily cropped out during the scan. If this can't be done, I've also found a higher f stop will generally keep the fence partially hidden. Enough so, probably to get onto AN. The 35-70 is the lens of choice for that spot, and it should fit through the fence...Don't be afraid to use some brute strength to get it in the fence. Nikon makes TOUGH lenses/cameras.

Good luck

User currently offlineKaiTakFan From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 1589 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (14 years 7 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 1691 times:

I wouldnt mess with SFO... in my opinion head down south to LAX! SFO is nothing compared to the mighty SoCal giant. just so many spots to go to! and what ever type shots you want, you got it! plus you get to be right outside with the action for those great shots. unlike SFO, having to stay inside is no fun! and if you are hanging out by the north runways around 11AM untill 1PM or so you get the Asian Invasion! within that time span you will nail Cathay Pacific, Malaysia (good luck seeing that in SFO) Singapore, Thai, Philippine, China Airlines, Korean, Asiana, JAL, ANA and so many more! And then same goes with departures around noon until 4PM everything goes. now am I just crazy or would you guys rather go to SFO instead of LAX?? being a Non rev on United its great to escape this wasteland Phoenix and have a great day of photographing! I havent once bothered going to SFO! any more info you might need if interested just ask... tons of people on here would be glad to share info about this great airport!


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