That is, indeed, a superb picture! After driving my eyes batty looking at it, I'm going to have to vote for the 762. Yes, it's focus is a little better (of course, the focus could've intentionally been on it, and that would make the 733 slightly out of focus whether it's further away or not).
At the same time, the tower might want to put the 733 ahead of the 762, for purposes of avoiding the most wake turbulence.
Take a close look at where the 737's tail is close to the 767's nose. To me, the difference in detail/color/contrast between the two is additional proof (IMHO) that the 737 is further from the camera (landing 28R) and the 767 is closer to the camera (landing 28L).
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
I have to say that the 767 is closer. If you think about how it was posted, he points out the 737, but the 767 is in focus. That would say to me that the camera auto-focused on the closer object, even if that wasn't the original intention. But why doesn't someone ask the photographer? I know, I think I'll do that. I'm waiting for his response right now.
The windows, emergency exits all appear slightly larger on the 737, it's the closer one. Also, you can nearly read the registration of the 737, and the flag is in better focus and slightly bigger than those of the 767.
Thank you for your interst in the photo. I had no idea that it would come to this, but I truly do appreciate the interest. The answer to the question is the 737. Just by looking at the photo, the best evidence I could come up with would be the relative size of the main passenger doors or even the relative size of a 767 vs a 737. And just to clear up any controversy, I do actually have a photo showing the 737 in front.
I've been hunting for these two aircraft on http://www4.passur.com/sjc.html and haven't found them. Looks like maybe 3:00 to 4:30 PM? So far I haven't found a likely 762 schedule in UA's timetable for 3 January. Can anybody do better?
Looking at a diagram of SFO, those two runways appear to be about 600 feet or so apart, centerline to centerline. I'm surprised that parallel approaches that close together are permitted. If for some reason the 733 blew both tires on the right gear and swerved to the right, things could get rather interesting.
The 733 is closer for the obvious fact that a 733 is smaller than a 762. Since they seem almost the same size, the smaller object has to be closer. If the 733 had been farther, it would really look small.
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Take it from someone who does not have stereo vision and has had to learn how to tell distance in two dimensions: That 762 is closer. If the 762 were further away, it would appear lower to the horizon, and smaller that it appears.
I even went so far as to hold scale models of a 762 and a 733 (not UA, though) at distances approximating what the 733 and 762 would have to be to appear in this photo, one way or the other, comparing relative size and figuring out where the aircraft would need to be.
As best as I can tell, unless the original photographer says otherwise, the 733 is actually slightly behind and above the 762.
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