ABOUT RELAX AND EXPLORE
Relax and Explore wasn't born overnight. It's the evolution of a lifelong wish to be able to tap into the relaxing and restorative powers of nature, no matter where I happen to be physically located. Along with this, I hoped to be able to combine my love for nature along with my love of technology. I always knew that I wanted to use only the finest available technologies to harness the best sights and sounds nature has to offer. After several years of continuous experimentation, I've now learned how to capture relaxing ambiences within seemingly harsh or even mundane environments. While an environment may not at first seem particularly relaxing, it can however become relaxing when transformed with specific technologies such as 3D stereo microphones, with remarkably calming effects. Which can help to manage stress and reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and enhance sleep patterns. As followers of ASMR will know, ASMR has been clinically proven to provide temporary relief to sufferers of stress, chronic pain and depression.
I fell in love with nature when I was just 4. The most enduring memory of my childhood is camping with my dad up in the Great Smokey Mountains or Tellico Plains in Tennessee. The sound of thousands of cicadas echoing around pitch-black forests was almost deafening yet incredibly soothing too. Another time, while canoeing around Harrison Bay, I had to quickly find shelter on a island when a thunderstorm suddenly hit without warning. It's almost impossible to convey the sense of complete relaxation I felt sitting on top of that island, watching the storm roll across the lake and the sound of raindrops falling from the trees all around me. There's simply nothing as relaxing as immersing yourself in the primordial sounds of nature; these most basic and essential sounds of nature, whether it be the sound of wind blowing gently through pine trees, waves lapping along the shoreline, or the sound of rain as it hits the ground.
My dad, when he was alive, was a police office and a scout leader. He lived for the quiet solitude of the outdoors. Every camping trip we went on began with the same catchphrase: "We're going twenty miles from paved roads". This was back in the 70s, so no internet, no cellphones, we were utterly cut off from civilization. I didn't think about wanting to record video and audio back then. But what I thought about was the deep peace and calm that always came over me when I was out hiking or sitting around a campfire, immersed in the sights and sounds of the natural world. I knew, even back then, that I wanted to somehow share this with others.
In the early 2000s I entered into the corporate world. Mission critical projects, all day long conference calls, flying from city to city. I couldn't help but look back and yearn for the relaxing days of my childhood. Fast forward to 2010 and I started thinking about the possibility of actually trying to capture the sights and sounds of nature that mean so much to me. I came across NatureSpace, a 3D nature recording site but at this point I simply didn't have the resources to create a similar site myself. 5 years later I bought my first camera, a GH4 and the 3Dio Freespace Mic. I then spent the next 3 years studying photography and audio recording. By the time 2018 rolled around, I'd become much more refined photographer and videographer, after having played with about $20,000 worth of different cameras, microphones and recording techniques.
My first serious attempts to capture nature was focused only on audio, which was a mistake. I asked myself a question - why am I ignoring all of this fantastic footage that could be filmed while trekking to the spot for my audio recordings? I felt that videos rather than audio alone is better at capturing diverse reality and also better represents who I am; a person who hikes 5 miles through nature at weekends and through urban streets on my daily commute.
While I'm out recording nature, my goal is always to capture my surroundings as closely to reality as possible. However, in cities I prefer a slightly altered perception which has been described as looking ''video game-ish''. I generally prefer to film at certain times of the day, usually around sunset, for a more relaxed and mellow overall ambiance. I've also drawn some inspiration from Rambalac's YouTube channel featuring 4K walks of Japan which I'm sure some of you already follow.
There are many kinds of reasons why we can't get out into the world and into nature quite as often as we'd like. The natural world provides many benefits to our cognition and health but this will be irrelevant if we continue to destroy the nature that's around us. But that destruction will be assured without our human reconnection to nature. Come walk with me as I explore cities, neighborhoods, gardens, coastlines and more, across the USA and beyond. Right through the seasons and through the elements. It's my hope that Relax and Explore will provide you with a real sense of relaxation and bring all of us just that little bit closer to all the beauty that surrounds us.