Pinta and Niña in Muskegon

This was too cool. Seriously! Unexpectedly, I felt giddy like a little kid. A couple of the Columbus-voyage replicas sailed into port.

Either we were being invaded by Spain — or Muskegon was discovered.

I spent some time chatting with the crew and hearing some of their stories. Some interesting tidbits; while they are “at sea” on the great lakes, they are close enough to shore to frequently have mobile phone coverage.

While in port they sleep in the ships. And they do make it into town to find the local restaurants and pubs. They are sailors, right?



Fireworks – Happy Independence Day

Fireworks are such a unique photography experience because of the sheer challenge of keeping it interesting and fresh. I think this collection is by far my favorite because the show started earlier than normal, allowing just enough natural daylight from the sunset to compete for attention.

And then last night, some more fireworks.

fw5905 fw5908

Who doesn’t LOVE watching fireworks?!?!




Pictured Rock National Lakeshore

It’s easy to find nearly any locale in the Upper Peninsula and simply spend a week there. One of my favorites is Munising. While you’re in the middle of the wild north, you’re also not far from a toilet paper factory. Nature and civilization collide!

Here are a few favorite shots from the lens of Picture Michigan.

Winter Waterfalls in an almost Winter Wonderland

Now that we’re in the heart of winter, I’m recalling the day when Michigan license plates included the tagline: Winter Wonderland. Taken from the past several years, these waterfalls are in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Gorge Falls, Bond Falls, Munising Falls and Wagner Falls.



A West Michigan Wedding Photography Coffee Table Book

There is so much to say here. This particular gallery is the layout design of a Coffee Table Book I designed as part of the Picture Michigan wedding photography package. It is also a chance to display an entire wedding.

The Wedding Story

What an incredible day this was for the Bride & Groom — Bill & Marie!

A few years ago, a stranger and I were chatting, and when I mentioned I photograph weddings she posed the question: “I bet you see a lot of dirt and have some ugly stories to tell with all those bridezillas huh?”

Quite the contrary! When I heard this question, my thoughts immediately raced to the last picture in this coffee table book. The band in the background jamming on the final chord of the last song of the night. The day of celebration officially concluded. And there’s the Bride, beaming ear to ear, hugging her dad.

That is a moment in time that will never ever leave me. I still get a little choked up telling that story. There are so many wonderful and magnificent stories I can share with words and have shared with pictures.

At the end of the day it’s a unique sensation of pride and humility for me. I am proud that I was able to be there and record the story. And I am humbled that I was able to be a part of that story, and witness it unfold in front of me.

The Wedding Book

This one is a unique one. It is a hundred pages. That’s really really big. Most are forty pages. This one has a seamless spread of about 13″x20″. Most have a magazine style seam with a 10″x20″ spread. No matter the size, it is always a gloriously beautiful portrayal of a grand celebration.

The signature at the bottom of each slide is for the website and does not appear in the actual book.

Lucky Lightning

Lightning in Muskegon

There was a recent online discussion I had seen on the topic of Lightning photography. The word lucky was used to describe somebody else’s shots.


Rightfully so, the shooter took issue with the statement. Responding with something to the effect of dragging one’s butt off the sofa and into inclement weather.

This makes for a great photography tip: a) the key to excellent lightning photography is dragging one’s butt off the sofa and into inclement weather. I will offer a few more tips in this post.

Lightning on Mackinac Island
Sunrise Lightning on Mackinac Island
Lightning on Mackinac Island
Sunrise Lightning on Mackinac Island

The previous two shots are old. Before the days of digital cameras and mobile devices with weather radar. In some ways, as a shooter, this is a little lucky. A unique situation where I was on Mackinac Island, during a storm at sunrise. And a camera with a dozen rolls of film.

Unfortunately, one of the shots was a little over exposed. On the original negative, this cannot be recovered. Now fortunately, the picture at Arnold’s Coal Dock was a much better exposure. Not an exact science, because you never know how far away the next lightning strike with be. So again, a little luck.

Another photography tip: b) Shoot lightning in digital raw. This will give you a little extra latitude in exposure compared to shooting in JPG mode. If your digital raw image was over exposed by a couple stops, it is easy to dial it down with Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw software.

Lightning in Muskegon
Lightning over Lake Michigan in Muskegon
Lightning in Muskegon
Lightning over Lake Michigan in Muskegon
Lightning in Muskegon
Lightning over Lake Michigan in Muskegon

This next shot was in the middle of the day. The most difficult lightning shooting condition is daylight. Essentially, you want to limit as much of the day light through the lens so you can drag the shutter as much as possible. The downside is that you limit the lightning light also.

Lightning in Byron Center
Lightning in Byron Center
Grand Rapids Lightning
Grand Rapids Lightning
Grand Rapids Lightning
Grand Rapids Lightning

Some more tips:

c) be safe
d) use a very sturdy tripod and a shutter release cable
e) my settings: I start off at 100 ISO and a 30 second shutter speed. My aperture could be set anywhere between 2.8 and 8.0. Aperture settings will be what experience and my gut tells me.
f) be lucky

These final two shots were on an occasion that I had enough warning that a big storm was coming. So I got my butt off the sofa and headed downtown. And I must say, I was a little nervous when I first stepped out of my car. Dorothy? Toto? is that you?

The first shot was taken at 70 mm. Perfect framing. 15 minutes and 20 shutters later, the second shot was taken at 200 mm. Perfect framing.

So I think the moral of the story is: If you get that killer lightning shot, it’s okay to say, “yeah, I got a little lucky.” If you’re not the photographer, don’t ever say, “you got lucky.”

Grand Rapids Lightning
Grand Rapids Lightning
Grand Rapids Lightning
Grand Rapids Lightning



Hi, remember me? I want to say something funny.

“Introductions are not in order. They’re chaotic.”


So after a brief period of silence, the Picture Michigan website is back. With a fresh start. Ugh. Fresh start is my way of saying everything from the previous version of the website is gone.

OPPORTUNITY! The blog will showcase past and present projects.


So what’s up with the picture?

I think I want to say that it’s a definition. “Hi, I’m Jon Jacobson, and this is Picture Michigan.”

It’s a sunset. In black and white.

Perhaps it’s a rebellion against the ubiquitous posts we see on facebook. Like it’s the last sunset we’ll ever see. The reality is that this scene is displayed the way I saw it before I pressed the shutter. The light. The contrast. The drama. Oh, okay, rebellion too. Breaking the rules.

Welcome back! I am genuinely humbled that you’ve joined me. Thank you.

– Jon