#998. Bayhem challenge results

By pascaljappy | Art & Creativity

May 04

Well, another tough one, right? This time, you can blame Adrian, I had nothing to do with it. The Bayhem challenge was his (excellent) idea and here’s what came in in reply 🙂

I burned the neighbour’s house down for this one!

But, first, let’s recap and describe why this is interesting and difficult.

The idea was to create photographs in which the frame is saturated with visual excitement. A visual overload, full of dynamic colour and movement. Something like this. Or this. Or this. Something typical of Michael Bay’s movie photography.

Why did I find this so exciting (when I can’t stand films like transformers)? Mostly because it’s completely at odds with my typical approach to photography, with most of our approaches, and very difficult.

Typical shot

Let’s be honest for a minute. Most of our photographs, like the one above, depict one thing. One person, one house (in a landscape maybe), one tree, one car, one mahussive ferry … There’s still composition involved, it’s just not that evolved (ahem, sorry).

99% of the Internet’s contribution to photographic composition hinges on stuff like the rule of thirds, or golden spirals and similargeneralisations intended to tell you where to place that one thing inside the frame.

Sometimes, we get adventurous and let two things enter the frame. And, immediately, the question of composition comes into play. You can center (and should center) that one thing if nothing justifies a different choice. But when two are present, a relationship automatically builds and composition becomes an essential ingredient of the photograph’s success. The photograph no longer is about the things but about the relationship between the things.

Old Britain meets new Britain

In a way, this is as close as I know how to come to Michael Bay’s style. There’s the main protagonist, the old Union Jack Mini, the secondary characters (the two Volkswagens at top left), the security guard watching me (this is Mayfair, you can look but don’t touch) and the double yellow line (which only applies to poor people).

Phew, 4 elements combined to tell the story of Mayfair. That’s about my max. And it’s balanced proper. Add a stalker at top right and it’s a winner.

But there’s no excitement, no sense of fun. No explosions, no shooting. Hence, no Bayhem. Maybe I should have asked my wife to try to open the Mini … 😉

Soulful matrix

So, there you go. To someone who strives for peace and balance in his photography, the prospect of visual sonic bangs, bright colours and organised cacophony, tall hat sounded real cool. And real hard.

But would it be a challenge if it was easy? 😉

Anyway, several of you tried. So thank you for that!

One last thing: I’m sorry I didn’t reply to all your individual submission messages! The past few weeks have involved heavy work shapeshifting and I receive many dozens of messages every day, so it’s very hard for me to keep up. But thank you all the same 🙂



Paul Barclay


I’m not sure these images meet the definition of Bayhem, since only one resembles an explosion.

Though, I think they meet the intent if you consider an over abundance of visual elements acceptable. Most of these images were taken when I should have been sheltering in place. Except exercising is an acceptable pass time, so I went to a nearby Historical District to walk the empty streets and see what was there. What I found was the yard of a house based antiques shop with an over abundance.

While I was there the owner of the shop came by to check on the place, and after a short conversation she graciously invited me in to look around. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed making them.

The final image was made during one of my walks around my neighborhood. There is a boat dock about half a mile from my house, and the reflections on the water seemed to meet the intent of this challenge.


Philippe Berend



Pascal Jappy


I set out to fail and succeeded brilliantly in that. Isn’t that how most of us fail, after all? By preparing to do so, to avoid the difficulty of trying and the likely misery of not making it? Isn’t that what sparates the Michael Bays of this world from the rest? Disregarding convention and our presuposed limits, rather than following the rules and downplaying our potential?

I’m happy with my photographs. But they are nowhere near Michael Bay screenshots. On the one side, I have the spectacular explosions, the flashy colours. On the other the compositions that combine multiple elements, where there’s a lot going on.

But I couldn’t reconcile the two in one frame. It looks like I won’t be directing Transformers 17. And, you know what? I’m envious. Because Michael Bay may well be the moralist genius society needs at this pivotal moment. See conclusion for more on this 🙂


Bob Kruger


Dale Chihuly is an iconic glass sculptor. His blown-glass sculptures are nothing short of spectacular. (No one ever accused him of being subtle.) I photographed some of his works at the Chihuly Museum in Seattle, WA recently. In order to fill the frame, I tarted up some of his work with mine to intensify the visual experience (as if that were needed).

Magic Carpet Ride

Raleigh-Durham (NC) Airport is a compact, but visual treat; not so much their parking lot. But when superimposed – Bam.

Indoor Parking

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hillsboro, NC from two different perspectives. Together they better illuminate the experience.

Steeple Chase

This is an assemblage of three photos. I started with a photo of Damascus Church, which lies on Damascus Church Road. (We have a plethora of roads in North Carolina named after the churches to which they lead.) Next is a macro photo of sliced cabbage. Add a picture of my grandson at the aquarium at the Omaha Zoo. All converted to monochrome. And there you have it, The Dawn of Time. Whew!

The Dawn of Time

Jean-Claude Louis


I made this image specifically for this challenge, a composite of three photographs taken several years ago while covering the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in Washington. I dislike this image almost as much as I dislike Mr. Bay’s movies and imagery (as well as others cut from the same cloth). But, challenge oblige 😉

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

Steve Mallett

Folly Farm Carousel
Folly Farm Jets
Folly Farm Space Patrol

Pascal Ollier

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Bali Hai restaurant, Penang Malaysia
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Chinese new year celebration Penang Malaysia
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Tokyo, in love with billboards; can somebody switch the light off please?
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Well what do they serve in that Tokyo restaurant?
Alvor, Portugal, the cross, the path that leads into the night, emotions galore

Sateen Prion


This is an overlay of photographs by Kai Pilger, Martin Adams and Claudio Schwartz. The simultaneous move in three different directions create a feeling of active disorientation in me.


Nancee Rostad


Once again serendipity has struck! A few weeks ago I decided to drive to downtown Seattle to do a little urban shooting. The town was absolutely deserted due to the pandemic restrictions, so I was able to easily stop anywhere and photograph (from the driver’s seat of my car) whatever caught my eye. I managed to capture a couple of interesting things, but when it came time to leave town I happened upon a scene that I couldn’t just drive past. Ordinarily, I’d never stop to photograph a burning building, but after seeing the sign that states “Our House is on Fire”, I couldn’t resist!

In my opinion, the scene was very Bayhem, with lots of movement and chaos as nearly every firefighter in Seattle arrived to put it out. The juxtaposition of the ecological sign and the fire was simply  intriguing. Thankfully, the building was abandoned and no one was hurt. 


Lad Sessions

Taken while walking around a local Virginia lake in August, I think this natural composition will be hard to beat for Bayhem
We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway this morning, in light drizzle (hence the very saturated colors), and I encountered another of nature’s Bayhems, this time an old tree stump with lots going on.
Nature can fill a frame at least as well as a human can

Dallas Thomas

Inside Saint Pierre de Chaillot Catholic Church in the 16th in Paris


Kristian Wannebo


At last there was some sun again…( – for more …hem.)

So I went for a …hem walk, but Bay… is rare here in the countryside.

So here is more -hem than Bay- 😉

Signhem … Just teasin’ (Canon G11)
Gearhem, or Farm backyard 1
Farm backyard 2 (Canon G11)
Colourhem (Canon G11)
Treehem 1 (Canon M + Samyang 50/1.2 at 1.2)
Treehem 2

John Wilson


Conclusion: A genius is a genius is a genius


It’s probably an interesting idea to look outside our community for other examples of that sort of work. I tried, at least. And, while not completely devoid of high-octane photographs, the pro/artist world isn’t that rich in overloaded compositions either. Two photographs that stand out to me are below.

(c) Sebastiao Salgado

So, it turns out photography of available sight isn’t particularly well suited to the sort of mind blowing imagery Michael Bay is known for. But that’s not the only reason we’re not producing images like those. After all, we can all go into the studio if we want to make that sort of imagery.

The difference is he wants to. And, possibly, not just to exploit the psychological weaknesses of human beings to pay for superyachts. But for good. I won’t bore you with the details. This video is well worth a few minutes of your time, whether you agree with the central thesis or not 🙂 Is Michael Bay the Socrates of our time, asking us the right questions to lead us to the greater truth?


My guess is he’s a tiny bit more cynical than that, but the idea that he’s throwing our worst impulses to our face is quite fantastic.

Future challenges !

Philippe has suggested RAW. And here’s his explanation:

“RAW. As in raw emotions, meaning, primal, irresistible. But also as in raw meat, uncooked, unprepared. And RAW images, as in unfiltered, untouched. And I am sure you people can find new meanings. So whether the raw side has to do with the image-making or the viewing, give yourself a wide berth. Just keep them RAW!”

Luxe, calme et volupté

Natually, the counterpoint seems just as interesting to me. Just like photojournalism and fine art prints of pretty flowers sit at opposite ends of a worthwhile photo spectrum, a raw image (shocking in its content, but largely unprocessed) and a highly polished image of a seemingly bland topic are what bring balance to the photographic Force. For this challenge (late June) you can take inspiration from Erwin Olaf’s still life work, for example. Or Don Worth or …

For either, just send me (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) your photographs by email in a 1000-2000px long side (please) format with the name of the challenge (RAW Challenge or POLISHED Challenge). And that’s it 🙂


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  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    ( I should have added a note in my mail…)
    Treehem 1
    *was* intended to stand on the side with that branch vertical.

    So, unless you think the “real” version is better, please turn it back.


  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    You’ve set yourself a hard task, and raised the bar, in the run up to whatever you have planned for your one thousandth “Dear Susan”!

    One thing puzzles me. Can I ask a question, without giving offence? How on earth do you catalogue such disconnected images? Or is that part of the challenge, too?

    • pascaljappy says:

      DS1000 will be light hearted I think. No pressure. Still have to work on it 😉

      I don’t catalog anything. People send me their photographs and I just show them here. I love how differently everyone understands a concept.

  • John Wilson – Loved your photos!

    • John Wilson says:

      Thank You Robert. I had a lot of fun “creating” them. Delighted you enjoyed them.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    What impressive results for a very challenging challenge! The variety of styles and subjects would impress Bay himself – and, perhaps, make him a bit envious. Kudos, everyone!

  • Dallas says:

    Well done all great images.

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