Panasonic Lumix LX100

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“The best camera is the one that you have with you!”

The above quote is some of the best photography advice I have ever received.

I’ve been doing photography for fourty years and I have owned several 35mm cameras and a few digital SLRs culminating with my formidable Nikon D700 “full-frame” Pro DSLR. A whole 6 years later, that camera still provides superb image quality and very little noise at high ISO. It’s only 12MP and it was basically the last DSLR released by Nikon without video capability, but it is still a superb camera today.

Nikon D700 w. 24-70mm f/2.8It has one big flaw: it is a very large and very heavy camera. When combined with the holy-trinity of professional Nikkor lenses (the 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8, all superb but large, heavy and expensive) this basic “kit” occupies a large camera bag and weights about 20 lbs when including flash, batteries and a macro lens. When I was younger, I had no problem going hiking or street-walking with such a kit, but today I couldn’t be bothered. I also never took this kit for traveling, too cumbersome and valuable for that. At most I would take just the camera along with the all-purpose 24-70mm lens, but even that is quite large as you can see to the right and weights about 5 lbs, which is a lot of weight to lug around on your shoulder all day.

As a result, I just wasn’t carrying this camera around very much at all and I missed a lot of good photo opportunities. So in 2008 I bought a Panasonic Lumix LX3 which was the first advanced compact camera I found with excellent manual controls and image quality. All of a sudden, this was my “best” camera, because it was usually the one I had with me. My Nikon got relegated to studio work, macro work, and the occasional field trip that I organized specifically with serious photography in mind. Unfortunately, that LX3 got stolen in 2010 so I bought the new and improved Lumix LX5 to replace it and I still own that camera to this day. The LX5 is an ideal travel camera and a camera that I can just keep in my briefcase at all times or carry in a coat pocket. Unfortunately, about 9 months ago I lost my LX5 charger and haven’t got around to replacing it yet. So for those past 9 months my Galaxy S4 has become my “best” camera as it is the one I always have with me. However, the very small sensor sizes and lack of creative controls on a cell phone are very limiting for any serious photographer.

So in this period of time I started looking for something better. While I love my LX5, I increasingly found its significant noise at mid to high ISO, slow autofocus and lack of depth-of-field control limiting. Panasonic’s now 2 year old LX7 was only marginally improved over the LX5 and Sony had since come out with the RX-100, a similarly compact camera but with a larger sensor size (1″ vs the LX5’s 1/1.63″ or.61″) and greatly improved image quality, video and auto-focus performance. I was almost ready to purchase a Sony RX100 III when Panasonic announced the Lumix LX100.

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The LX100 is a true advanced compact camera in the tradition of the LX line, but it raises the bar significantly. While Sony, Nikon and Canon all recently released advanced compact cameras with 1″ sensors, the LX100 is the first to come out with a 4/3″ (1.33″) sensor in such a compact size. As you can see in the chart below, the 4/3″ sensor has twice the surface area of 1″ sensors and 5 times the area of the LX7’s sensor. Cell phones generally have tiny 1/3.2″ sensors. Amazingly, Panasonic increased the sensor size but maintained the pixel count to a smart 16MP (12.8 usable because of the multiple aspect-ratios), so those pixels are quite large. Why all this attention to sensor and pixel size? Because contrary to popular belief, the biggest factor affecting image quality is not pixel count but pixel size. In fact, the race to very high pixel counts in cell phones (the current norm appears to be about 13MP) is ridiculous as it increases the processing and storage capacity needed and most people only use those pictures for Internet posting, where 1MP is usually sufficient. Cell phones certainly don’t need more than 5MP and their quality would be much higher if they stuck to that, but the public blindly demands higher pixel counts.

Camera Sensor Size Chart

The Lumix LX100’s larger sensor size means lower noise at high ISO. Looking at early sample pictures, at 3200 ISO the fotos are very usable and beat the Sony RX100’s easily. They even seem to approach that of my D700. ISO 6400 appears to be still quite usable and even ISO12800 would be usable in a pinch if you don’t plan to make large prints. With good high ISO capability combined with the lens’ fast f1.7 aperture and image stabilization this camera should be quite good in low light situations. Everything else being equal, larger pixels also mean better dynamic range and better color depth.

Another significant benefit of a larger sensor is the increased creative control over depth-of-field, so you can keep backgrounds out of focus for example. To sweeten the deal some more, the LX100’s lens sports a 9-blade iris which should provide for beautiful bokeh. Putting this large a sensor with a fast lens in such a compact camera is quite an engineering feat and a significant improvement for any serious photographer. This compact camera should be able to compete directly on image quality and creative control with larger Micro 4/3 cameras, prosumer DSLRs and bridge cameras.

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There are many other features of this camera that I like as they make it an advanced camera for “serious” photography:

  • The presence of a high-quality 60fps electronic viewfinder. Framing at arms length with an LCD screen is always less than ideal and hard to do in full sun.
  • The aperture and zoom rings on the lens barrel, like a proper camera!
  • The shutter speed and exposure controls on the top, like a proper camera!
  • Ability to save RAW files, essential for post-processing.
  • 1/4000 shutter speed, 1/16,000 with the electronic shutter.
  • High quality Leica lens with a very wide 24mm setting and fast f/1.7-f/2.8 maximum aperture. For street and travel photography, the 24mm wide-angle is far more important to me than a longer telephoto.
  • 4K video with the ability to pull 8MP photos from the video at 25fps.
  • 11fps with focus and exposure fixed on first shot, or 6.5fps with focus and exposure tracking. 40fps with the electronic shutter.
  • Advanced and fast autofocus that works even in very low light (-3EV).
  • Separate compact flash provided, much better than a puny built-in flash.
  • Built-in time-lapse and stop-motion recording modes and ability to control the camera via a smartphone.

 

Things I would like to see different:

  • I wish they would have removed the multiple aspect ratios. While they are useful, I would prefer having just a standard 3:2 aspect ratio and get the full 16MP. I can crop in post-processing.
  • I wish the LCD was articulated. I find that feature very useful and it should be touch enabled as well to permit the selection of the focus point. This is very handy when working on a tripod.
  • it would have been nice to have a 100mm focal length, but I wouldn’t want to sacrifice lens size or speed, so the 75mm is just as well for me, I can zoom with my feet. 85-90mm would have been useful for portraits though… But then I still have my D700.

Overall my quibbles are pretty small. This looks like it will be the best advanced compact camera yet and according to the first reviews coming out the camera is a joy to use and the image quality is superb for this class of camera. A near perfect combination of size, creative control, features and image quality, allowing me to both have an excellent camera and always have it with me. A great rangefinder-style travel and street photography camera.

Some will say: why not buy one of Panasonic’s compact models with the same sensor but interchangeable lens like the GX7 or GM5? They are after-all just as compact if you put a 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens on it. First, I really don’t feel like buying and messing with a bunch of lenses, I already have my Nikon for that. Second, just the price of the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for Micro 4/3 is more than the LX100 costs and makes the camera far larger too, defeating the purpose.

I will definitely be purchasing a Lumix LX100 when they become available in my area.

Category: Photography

What people would not do to look better…

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I’m amazed by the things people are willing to do to their body in an attempt to look better. This is particularly true here in Colombia where there are a LOT of gorgeous women and where the macho culture valorizes women’s beauty but not much else. The pressure on women to look better is tremendous.

A couple of days ago a friend asked Monica to accompany her to a beauty salon. Once there, the friend was offered and decided to get a “mesotherapy” product injected in her belly to “burn fat”. She knew nothing about the product except what the lady selling it told her. Monica was a bit alarmed by this and started asking questions but all she got was that it was a “natural” product and that they even had a doctor as a client so there was clearly nothing to worry about… Thankfully Monica had the presence of mind to grab the small 5ml glass vial and bring it home to me (the lady searched for it and was alarmed that she couldn’t find it…)

The first real source of concern came when I looked at the vial. I could only read the brand and product name on the vial (Dermclar, Reducing Extracts) but I could see there was more writing on the other side of the vial, covered by a bar-code sticker. When we removed the sticker, I could read in bold letters: “For External Use Only”. Monica immediately called her friend to make sure she wasn’t experiencing any serious health problems but we didn’t tell her anything yet so as not to alarm her.

I then researched the product and found that it was a rather benign extract from a couple of exotic sounding plants (typical) and that it was meant to be applied on the skin and then worked-in with a specialized electronic machine also sold by Dermclar. The product supposedly works by making the fat cells easier to process by the body’s natural metabolism (I have my doubts).

I was also able to find the product online for about $4 in quantities of 10 and $3.20 in quantities of 100. The friend was charged 150,000 pesos or $75 for the procedure, so about 20 times what the product cost. Given that the lady applying it probably earns no more than 40,000 pesos a day, one could expect that with the price of the syringe and a healthy profit margin this shouldn’t have cost more than 50,000 pesos.

Thankfully the friend had no apparent ill-effects but the next morning she was convinced that her abdomen was visibly smaller (sigh). Even according to the manufacturer’s claims (which are most likely untrue and have not been clinically verified), this was not a possible outcome.

There are so many things wrong with what this lady friend did:

1. You should never let anyone inject something into you if you don’t know what it is and have not researched it beforehand (there are obviously exceptions to this with medical situations and qualified medical staff, but not for esthetic purposes).

2. You should never let unqualified people inject anything in you. If they are not a nurse, EMT or doctor , they do not have the required training to select the right product, minimize risk, manipulate syringes safely and perform injections correctly. They are also not qualified to save your life in case you go into shock or have a severe allergic reaction, which are both quite possible following an injection. This is why they want you to stick around for 15 minutes when they give you a vaccine.

3. The fact that something is “natural” does not in any way shape or form make it safe. There are thousands of natural substances that are deadly or highly toxic to human beings and others that can cause all kinds of health problems or allergic reactions for some people.

This is a good example of how much of the “alternative medicine” and cosmetic industries work, praying on people’s desperation and ignorance and with wild claims and plentiful promises of “natural” and easy solutions to their problems. Remember, when a treatment has been proven to actually work, it becomes just “medicine”. Also, the day someone finds an easy and effective weight-loss solution, it will be all over the news.

Here in Colombia there doesn’t seem to be any kind of law against false advertising. There are currently two kinds of pills plus a cream that purport to miraculously “burn fat” and are being heavily advertised on TV.

I wanted to denounce this beauty salon to the police for it’s dangerous activities, but Monica doesn’t want to, I think she doesn’t want to do the lady any harm.

Category: Life, Science

Cleopatra

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We’ve lost our beloved Cleo 3 weeks ago. We think she was probably a victim of a boa that has been roaming in the area for some time. We will miss her dearly, she was a very sweet cat.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Category: Cats

New eBook on Wide-Angle Photography

I just downloaded this beautiful new eBook in PDF format. It is a very focused book with a narrow subject: Wide-Angle Macro Photography. Most macro-photography is done with lenses from normal to short tele, which allows you to isolate the subject from its background. But by using a wide-angle lens you can show the subject in-context, within its environment, and this can make for some very dramatic photos.

At only $5 this book is a bargain and you can find it here: Wide-Angle Macro Photography

Category: Photography | Tags:

PopSci Innovation of the year: Google Now

Popular Science just named Google Now their Innovation of the Year. Like most people, I had never heard of Google Now, until last week that is, when I upgraded my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone to Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean).

All of a sudden, my phone started popping up cards telling me very useful information that I never asked for! Before driving to work, it would tell me how long it would take and what the weather would be like. Similarly, before going back home or going to an appointment  it would tell me how long it will take me to get there, taking weather and traffic into consideration.

Other things I have not yet experienced: if you made a flight reservation, it will tell you if your flight is on time, how long it will take you to get to the airport, and what the weather will be like at your destination, and how long it will take you to get to your hotel from the airport! Of course it will also remind you of birthdays, holidays, special events like concerts you have tickets to and it can even suggest nearby restaurants when you’re on the road and lunchtime approaches.

There are many other features I have yet to experience, but the neat (if not a bit scary) part is that all this happens automatically without any input from you. It is all based on your Android phone’s GPS location, Google Search and the contents of your gmail account and Google calendar. It is all very innovative and very useful and could easily become Android’s killer feature. You no longer need to tell your phone what you want, your phone tells you what you need. Eat your heart out Siri.

Category: Technology | Tags: ,

Another nice article on Panama

They describe 5 of the most popular places for retirement in Panama, each offering a very different lifestyle. 5 Retirement Places in Panama

Category: Living, Panama

I am Canadian?

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Yesterday was Canada Day (July 1st, the anniversary of the country’s official creation) and many friends took the time to wish me a happy Canada Day as many also celebrated. But somehow that day didn’t feel as special to me as it used to do. I felt no desire to rejoice or celebrate my canadian roots or my birth land.

Truth is, I just don’t really feel that Canadian anymore. Sure, my passport says Canada and the Canadian and Québecois cultures will always be a big part of who I am. But I have been out of Canada for 4 years and feel increasingly distant from the country and its politics. Canada is no longer the country I used to love.

My Canada was #1 on the UN’s list of best places to live. This was based on the fact the country was safe, peaceful, tolerant, egalitarian, had excellent health care and education accessible to all, cared about the environment and fostered arts and culture. My Canada invented the concept of socialized universal healthcare. My Canada invented the concept of peace keeping forces, and implemented the first one in Cyprus. My Canada was respected worldwide for its peacefulness, its respect of the environment and its respect of human rights both at home and abroad (unlike a certain infamous neighbour). My Canada had not only freedom of and from religion, but it had complete separation of church and state and you never heard a politician mention the word god in a political context.

But I have watched my Canada slowly slip away for the past 30 years (or would “slip south” be more accurate?), and that trend has greatly accelerated under the Harper administration who seems to stand against all my personal values. No my Canada doesn’t exist anymore and the only link that I still feel is to my Canadian friends and family. I no longer feel any attachment to the land itself.

To quote Thomas Payne: “I’m a citizen of the world, and to do good is my religion”.

Category: Canada, Politics | Tags: ,

My very own StairsMaster 3D

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About 6 weeks ago I started walking the river trail every morning. Since the trail is about 70% stairs, it is quite the aerobic workout. While I liked the real stairs-masters, I hate working out inside on a machine, it is just boring and causes me to concentrate on the pain. This though, is like a StairsMaster 3D with smell, sound and vision generator. It is invigorating and fun, save for the occasional snake encounter.

The first morning I walked, I did 1km in 25 minutes. Now I can do 1km in 12 minutes, and this morning I did 3.5kms in 45 minutes. In 6 weeks, I have lost 10 lbs and 4″ of waist-line. It is invigorating and I feel great! I hope to lose another 20 lbs over the next two months.

Category: Uncategorized

The Pain of Losing People Who Greatly Influenced Me

Losing a parent, a sibling or a close friend is always difficult. I lost my younger brother in 1993 and I know that it feels like part of you has been torn out. But there is another type of people that I also find very painful to lose. These people were not necessarily very close to me, but they were people who had a profound influence on me, on who I am: they helped shape my life. When these people die, it also feels like a part of me has died or been torn out. I’ve lost three such people over the last few years and here I’m going to honour each one of them by talking a little bit about who they were and how they influenced my life. I hope those readers who are part of my extended family will recognize them and perhaps agree with how I perceived them. As for other readers, perhaps you will find some inspiration to go and influence others around you like these folks did for me.

The first one I lost was uncle Dave. Dave and his family moved away to New Brunswick when I was a young kid but I continued to see them a couple of times a year. They would come and visit us during the summer vacations and the Christmas holiday season,and we would go visit them every other summer or so. Dave was a wonderful fun-loving man who loved to laugh and play practical jokes. But above all, Dave loved kids. He always spent a lot of time with us and would let us do cool things, like drive his car around the campground or go swim in the local river. He treated us kids as equals so I saw him more as a big friend then as an authority figure. In a sense, Dave was the father I wished I had. My own father is a very good man and I love him, but when I was a young kid he was working 60 hours/week to provide for us and he just wasn’t very present for me. Dave was not only the cool uncle, but he was also the dream father (to me anyway, not sure how his own two kids saw him).

But Dave influenced me in a much more fundamental way. He was single-handedly responsible for instilling in me a love of science and technology. When I was about 12, he spent time with me in his workshop explaining how things like diodes, resistors, capacitors and transistors worked, and we did small projects together. That year he even bought me a Radio Shack 100 Electronic Experiments kit and a Chemistry Kit. This launched me on a path to study Applied Science in college and it was instrumental in me later becoming an Air Force pilot and then for my second career in information technology.

After I joined the Air Force and moved out west I only saw Dave every few years or so, but he nonetheless still held a special place in my heart. Dave died way too young of an unfortunate medical accident. I can still see his smily face and he obviously still influences my life to this day having shaped who I became from an early age.

The second such influential person I lost, only recently, is uncle Roger. I was never really close to Roger since he was a busy executive and he lived in Montreal and I lived in Shawinigan and then Quebec City, but we often saw each other at his lake cottage in the summer. I also helped him with his personal computer when he spent time in Quebec City on business. Roger and his wife Fleurette were the most beautiful couple I knew. Deeply in love with each other and that love transpired to everyone around them. They were the epitome of love, gentleness and tolerance, and very supportive of their own kids even when they embarked on what was at the time very controversial lifestyles that my own parents were scandalized by. Roger was also a very smart man with a thirst for knowledge, an intellectual who studied all his life. He loved nature and became an expert in mushrooms, even helping start the Montreal Mycological Society. Roger was a distant role model to me, but he was the kind of man I aspired to be.

Roger was unfortunately afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, a horrible disease that I think is doubly tragic for someone of his intellect. They say that Alzheimer’s is far worse for the victim’s loved ones than it is for the victims themselves and I believe it. This disease slowly took away Roger from his beloved Fleurette, devastating her. The last time I saw him he didn’t even recognize me, but I will always remember his gentleness, his intelligence and his loving nature. I still aspire to be half as good a man as he was. He died a few years ago from his disease.

The third influential person I lost is uncle Fernand. Last time I saw was in October 2010 during our visit to Canada and I can tell you that the Fernand we knew and loved was gone forever. Fernand was also afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and it was progressing very rapidly. The previous time I had seen him, two short years before, he had no short term memory left but he still had all his strength, sharp mind and fun-loving personality. Alas, he died a year later, just a couple of weeks ago.

Fernand was a simple, unassuming man and I didn’t know him much when I was a kid. I really got to know him in my 20s and 30s. He began occupying an important place in my life after I joined the Canadian Air Force. By this time Fernand was a victim of the massive closures of industries that happened in Quebec during the 80s. He was forced into early retirement while in his 50s, which was devastating to him. He also decided to leave his wife around this time, walking away from a joyless and lifeless marriage when his only daughter reached 21 (something he had actually announced he would do 7 years earlier!) Rather than feeling sorry for himself he took this opportunity to realize a life-long dream and go live on the shores of his beloved Lac des Piles. From this point on Fernand lived a simple life close to nature and with a woman he loved and who loved him back without judgment.

I admired Fernand for his courage to leave his joyless marriage despite the fact that most of his sisters disowned him for doing it. He was a picture of happiness living by the lake with his lover, even though they had very little money. They took pleasure in each other’s company and in the beautiful nature surrounding them. He led a healthier lifestyle and got by with what he had, never asking for more. He thought me the importance of love and happiness, of not wasting your life on bad relationships or the pursuit of wealth, of taking risks and of living your life for yourself and not to please others.

My wife Diane and I spent many weekends at his lake house before we got our own cottage on the lake and then many wonderful dinners in his company after that. Every time we would come visit from out-west we made sure we spent plenty of time with Fernand. I have many fond memories of night-walks in the snow, and excellent food and wine mixed with great conversations and lots of stories from Fernand’s storied life. He always expressed interest and admiration for our own globetrotting lifestyle while politely acknowledging that he preferred his own low-stress and simple life. He was an important part of the process I personally went through over several years, ultimately leading to my own decision to get out of the rat race and live a simpler but more meaningful life close to nature and my lovely wife. Fernand was more than an uncle, he was a very good friend. I was simply floored last October when I saw how quickly he deteriorated in two years. He went from a strong man with a fun-loving and bubbly personality, to a wilted-up and frail old man with the mind of a child. Our old friend Fernand had already left us then, and now he is truly gone.

This brings me to a further comment on Alzheimer’s. We mostly hear about how this horrible disease slowly deprives its victims of their memory beginning with short-term and progressing to long-term memory, eventually regressing into childhood while taking away the intellectual powers of the victim. This was poignantly depicted in the film “The Notebook”. What this film fails to show though is the physical deterioration that often accompanies the mental deterioration. We also don’t hear much about how the personality, the essence of the person slowly fades away. Seeing Fernand last October brought that home to me, really hard. And for those who still cling to the notion that the “essence” of a person is encapsulated in an eternal soul that survives us, surely, Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases should make you reconsider that position. We now know, without a shred of doubt that the essence of a person, his or her personality, intelligence, memories, values, etc., all come from the electro-chemical processes of the brain. And when these processes start breaking down, the essence of the person disappears with them.

Here’s to your memory Dave, Roger and Fernand. Your minds may have been extinguished forever, but the essence of who you were lives on in those you loved and influenced. You all had a profound influence on me that I will cherish until my own death. I can only hope to have had a similar influence on other people during my own life.

Category: Life | Tags:

Whale Watching in the Pearl Islands

This week my wife and I went whale watching with 3 other couples in the Pearl Islands. This was almost a last minute thing as we were invited to replace another couple that couldn’t make it. Well, it turned out to be one of those unique life-altering experiences. Everybody should have this on their bucket list!

Our guide was Anne Gordon, a well known animal trainer that has done work for TV series and movies in the past. She now lives in Panama where she has married an Embera Indian and organizes tours of an Embera village. She recently started doing whale and dolphin watching tours as well. You can find out more here and here. While I don’t for one minute believe her “spiritual” stuff, or that she communicates with the whales or worse, that she can heal people over the phone by channeling “Dolphin Energy”, Anne is nonetheless a remarkable woman that has deep knowledge and respect for the animals, especially the whales. At our request, she respectfully kept all of that “woo woo” stuff out of our trip, so don’t let her website scare you away (I nearly cancelled after reading her website).

Anne organized the whole trip including the plane tickets, the lodging, a fishing afternoon and the whole day on the catamaran with Capt. Pascal. So this was a pleasant and worry free trip. If I was to do it again though I might elect to take the 1.5 hour ferry ride to the islands. While Air Panama only takes 20 minutes to get there, you need to arrive 1 hour ahead of time and we had 2 hour delays both ways. On the ferry you might actually get to see whales on the way there too!

Our first afternoon a group of three went fishing and caught 3 large dorados (mahi mahi) and 6 mackerels. These were dropped at two different restaurants on the island (Romantica and Gerald’s) where they were cooked for us for our two dinners on the island. All 9 of us slept in the comfy Contadora Island Inn B&B.

The second day we boarded the 44′ catamaran at 9:30 ( I think we should have gone out at 8 am since we were all ready, but it was what it was). The boat is very modern, roomy, stable and comfortable. Capt Pascal is a very nice guy and he cooked us a nice lunch too. The only disadvantage of the catamaran is that it is very slow so you can’t rapidly get to the whales when you spot them. But other than that, it was the ideal platform to spend a day on the sea looking for whales while respecting their space.

Things augured well when Pascal told us he was awaken by a couple of whales that came right up to his boat in the bay where he was anchored. Only a few minutes after leaving Contadora island, we spotted a smaller boat surrounded by a group of whales so we immediately aimed for them and it took us maybe 15 minutes to get there.

We were first greeted by spotted dolphins as there was a large group of them playing with the humpbacks. They swam right in front of our boat and they were very playful as you would expect.

Shortly thereafter the first humpback came to check us out. Turns out there were 4 adult whales and one calf. This group of whales and dolphins stayed with us for nearly two hours. They were really curious and would pass extremely close to the front of the boat where we were all standing. They were clearly checking us out. On a couple of occasions they even went right under the boat (see the video below).

We had talked to Anne about swimming with the whales and she said she wanted to check what kind of mood they were in first. She was ready to guide us in the water at some point but there were two other small boats in the area and she safely decided to wait for them to leave. By the time we finally got in the water, the whales had decided to move on. We followed them for a while but they clearly didn’t want to play with us anymore.

After lunch we went to “Survivor island” beach to collect some shells and see what the Survivors were up to, but we were not allowed to get anywhere near them. After snorkeling a bit in these beautiful warm waters, we headed back out to look for more whales. While we could see groups of whales on the horizon in nearly all directions we never managed to get close to any of them again. We gave up late afternoon and started heading back to Contadora when all of a sudden one lone whale popped out of nowhere right next to the boat as if to say goodbye, and then dove back down and went on her way.

This was a fantastic trip and our close encounter with the whales exceeded everyone’s expectations and we all came away thrilled. We felt very privileged that these huge but graceful and magnificent animals came right up to us and shared a few intimate moments with our group. The only disappointment for me was missing out on swimming with these gentle giants.

This was an awe-inspiring and spine-tingling experience and I can certainly see why the more “spiritually-inclined” people interpret this as a spiritual experience and invoke notions of “energy” and other bogus pseudo-scientific concepts. But in reality it is just a highly emotionally charged encounter that kicks our brain into releasing adrenaline and endorphins and the storm of emotions that goes with them.

While you and I will never agree on this point Anne, I nonetheless thank you for your kindness, for your deep respect for the whales and for making this experience of a lifetime possible for us.

Highly recommended!

See the complete photo album here.