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Patrick Dillon Photography

2010 Best Books Award Winner

2011 International Book Awards finalist

2012 International book awards finalist

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Owl Adventures - Slide show at bottom of page

While in the final crunch days scurrying around trying to meet all the deadlines to turn this book in for publication, I found the best way to relieve the stress was to get out into nature and enjoy its brilliance.  After a rough day, I took our dog out to my favorite spot.  It’s a small lake lined with large cottonwoods on one side with grassy meadows on the other.  We arrived just as the sun was setting and little did I know what would be awaiting us.

I unloaded my camera gear and hurried down the trail that led to the lake in order to capture the sun setting over the water.  About half way there, I couldn’t help but notice the sun reflecting off the water, filtering through the trees in the most beautiful way.  It appeared almost mystical.  I quickly snapped a shot off and within seconds, the sun started to fade away behind a distant mountain causing a brilliant red glow that I wasn’t about to miss with my camera.  I ran to the waters edge and snapped off another shot just before the sun disappeared.  Little did I know I had captured the silhouette of a flock of Canadian geese that made the picture more interesting.

While reviewing the picture I had just taken, I heard a screech sound behind me in the trees.  I looked back and to my pleasant surprise was a gorgeous Great Horned Owl perched a top a dead snag no more than 20 feet away. The owl was just staring at me with piercing eyes.  It was as if he was trying to get my attention.  I didn’t waste any time and set my camera to manual.  I adjusted the shutter speed to 1/25th of a second to allow more light to filter through which meant I had to remain perfectly still to avoid blurring the image.  I painstakingly snapped the shot off and was fortunate to capture a fairly sharp image in the low light level.  As I continued snapping off images, the owl stayed put with no apparent fear of me.  It was more concerned about my dog who was circling the tree trying to find a way after it.  I kept shooting pictures  until it got too dark and the owl cooperated as if he was enjoying the company. 

I have been trying to get a picture of a Great Horned Owl for years and now it was as if this curious owl had come to my private studio.  In the past, they have always flown off well before I could get close enough. 

I have since been back to this spot on many occasions and I can usually rely on my little friend to be there waiting for me.  The owl has become so use to me that I can get within a few yards without scaring it off.  Looking at the owl up close makes me realize how creative our Lord is.  It has the most beautiful features and is perfectly adapted in color and size to its environment.  The owl is simply a work of art.  Lately, there have been two of them but only one is not afraid of me (probably because it’s young).  The other larger one flies away if I get too close.  I never thought I would have a special relationship with an owl but I’m not complaining.  I love every minute of it and I thank God for sharing His creation with me. 

Pictures of this encounter are available below on the flash slideshow player.

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A few weeks later, I went out for my late evening ritual trying to catch another glimsp of the owl and to take more pictures of the beautiful sunsets and silhouettes this spot offers on a regular basis.  Each sunset is unique which offers a variety of perspectives from the same location. 
This was one of those nights that only occurs every once in a while.  The sun was just setting when I arrived so I quickly jumped out of my truck with my dog and snapped off a couple of shots of my favorite “sunset tree” that provides such a nice silhouette at that time of night.  The lake in the background typically provides a reflection of the clouds and fading sun.  The sunset wasn’t very good, at least I thought.

I then hurried over to where I usually see the owl and sure enough, he (assuming it was a he) was waiting for me perched on a low lying branch only a few yards off the ground.  I squeezed off a few pictures and expressed a few words out loud even though I knew he didn’t have any idea what I was saying.  Regardless, ever time I talked to him, he would rotate his nimble head in my direction but would quickly get distracted by my dog who was trying to climb the tree to get a closer look.  The owl would let off a high pitched shriek as if trying to engage in the conversation which made my dog even more anxious to introduce herself.  She jumped up the tree and fell back to the ground a few times until she realized it wasn’t going to work.  While all this was going on, I suddenly noticed that the bland sunset had taken on a whole new light. 

I took off running towards the lake’s edge to capture the beautiful sunset that appeared out of no where.  The path to the lake was chocked with tall grass, brush, and fallen logs.  About three quarters of the way there, my left foot caught a snag while running nearly full speed which sent my flying through the air.  I tried to protect my camera by pulling it into my body which proved to be a foolish mistake.  I landed hard, face first on the ground.  Immediately, a piercing pain in my right upper thigh reverberated throughout my body.  I tried to stand up but fell back to the ground.  I thought the pain would go away as it usually does after a few moments but it only intensified.  I tried to rub it out but it only made it worse. On the ground were I had fallen I noticed a sharp three pronged stump protruding a few inches out of the ground. It's a wonder it didn't tear me wide open.

Meanwhile, the sunset was getting more spectacular by the moment. This was the most beautiful sunset I had seen in awhile – the water’s reflection revealed a sky that was on fire with a brilliant red color.  In agony, I rolled over to my side and started taking pictures.  My dog finally came over to see what all the commotion was about.  She licked my face and then just stared at the now fading sunset (picture on right) and continued on her way.  “Thanks for the help,” I thought. 

Taking pictures of the beautiful sunset temporarily took my mind off the pain. Even more bizarre, the owl just stood there staring at me as if being entertained by all the action.  It kept screeching as if trying to alert someone of my predicament.  Or maybe he was waiting for me to die and saw me as a potential meal - hopefully not the latter.  It started to get dark and I still couldn’t stand up.  Like a dummy, I didn’t bring my cell phone.  I didn’t know how bad the injury was (did I break my leg or was it just a contusion?). 

I tried to get up again and at least made it to my feet but quickly collapsed due to the intense pain.  I stood up again placing all my weight on my left leg and started to slowly hobble towards my truck about a quarter of a mile away.  When the pain wouldn't subside even after trying to walk it off, I began to worry.  I have told many baseball players to walk it off after being beamed by a ball or colliding with another player but there I was, struggling to even walk.  With the exception of the owl, I felt fortunate that no one else was witnessing my pathetic condition.  I managed to get myself and my dog back into the truck and after arriving back home, my leg had swelled up like a balloon and the pain remained.  My wife and son saw me limping into the house and asked what had happened.  When I told them, my son just stared at me and then laughed.  I started laughing with him because I realized how funny I must have looked barely hobbling along while at the same time excitedly telling them of my adventure. I also realized that I had gone a little crazy with sunsets and owls. 

It took several weeks before I could apply full pressure to my leg but it keeps improving and I definitely didn’t let it stop me from my owl nd sunset adventures.


Video Player -




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