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Tell Me About SFO Coyote Point

Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:07 am

I found an excellent archived post on SFO spotting locations mentioning this spot. Given that I've tried just about every other SFO spotting location to no special result, I figure it has to be worth a try. I'd like some more information about it specifically- when's the light good there? Will spotters be hassled? About how much focal length is required?

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Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 8:12 am

RE: Tell Me About SFO Coyote Point

Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:41 am

Lighting is usually good in the late afternoon. I've never been hassled or have heard of anyone getting into any trouble at Coyote Point. Since the location most popularly used for spotting is pretty isolated, you won't get any cops or strange looks from people. Usually a 200mm focal length is good enough, but I have a 70-300mm lens just in case. Take note that there is a vehicle entrance fee (I think $6 now), but it's worth it in my opinion. It's a beautiful area not just for spotting but hiking, biking, and swimming as well.
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lindy field
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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2001 1:52 pm

RE: Tell Me About SFO Coyote Point

Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:17 pm

One of the nice things about Coyote Point is that it's quite large so you can roam around to find a spot that suits you, but keep in mind that you'll be limited to photographing aircraft against a blue sky or clouds since it's a good mile or two from the end of the runways. Here are some sample images:
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Photo © Edward Kehler
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Photo © Edward Kehler

The first was taken around 2pm in summer and the other at 4. Light will be better later in the day but sometimes the traffic warrants an earlier visit and you can probably roam around to find an acceptable angle. Bring a windbreaker; it can be a little breezy at any time of year since it's on the bay.
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Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:41 pm

RE: Tell Me About SFO Coyote Point

Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:46 pm

I 100% agree with Dmitriy and lindy field.

I have never been hassled at Coyote Point and can't see anybody ever having a problem with spotters there. As mentioned, you will only get side on shots against blue (or gray) sky and you are mostly shooting at a steep angle (for approaches to 28L, you will get a large percentage of aircraft belly in your shot). It's also less likely that you get a good parallel landing shot there, but its not out of the question. Mornings can be tricky and are mostly backlit and because of the steep angle, early afternoon light can be quite harsh. Best light is in the later afternoon.

My favorite spot is right behind the CuriOdyssey building. Drive into the park (the vehicle fee is $6) and then follow the signs to CuriOdyssey. Park in their parking lot and walk past the right side of the building. You will see a platform in front of you that overlooks the Bay (and also the Coyote Point Marina and SFO itself). Here is a link to the parking lot: (the lookout is just north of the parking lot, past the building).

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