Updated: Mar 9
Relaxing Walks 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. Alongside this, I'd always hoped to be able to combine my love for nature along with my love of technology. I knew I wanted to use only the very best available technologies to fully harness all the wonderful sights and sounds nature has to offer. For me, there's simply nothing as relaxing as immersing myself in the primordial sounds of nature; these most basic and essential sounds, whether it be the sound of wind blowing gently through pine trees, waves lapping along a shoreline, or the sound of rain as it hits the ground.
After years of continually experimenting with audio and recording technologies, both in natural and urban environments, I've learned how to fully capture relaxing ambiences within seemingly harsh or even mundane environments. While an environment may not initially seem particularly relaxing, it can however become relaxing when transformed with specific technologies such as 3D stereo microphones, with remarkably calming effects. This can help to manage stress and reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and enhance sleep patterns. As followers of ASMR know, ASMR is 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 in the Great Smokey Mountains and Tellico Plains in Tennessee. The sound of thousands of cicadas echoing around pitch-black forests was almost deafening yet incredibly soothing. While out canoeing around Harrison Bay, I once had to take sudden shelter on a island when a thunderstorm hit without warning. It's 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.
My dad, when he was alive, had been 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 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 the fantastic footage that could be filmed while trekking to the spot for my audio recordings? I also felt that video rather than audio alone would be better at capturing diverse reality. Plus, better represents who I am - as someone 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 urban environments I prefer a slightly altered perception, which has often been described as looking ''video game-ish''. I usually 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.
My wife Elizabeth always walks beside me when I'm recording for Relaxing Walks. You'll probably spot our shadows side by side when the sun's high in the sky. Elizabeth's originally from Bristol, UK. We met online in a chatroom and did LDR before getting married. Elizabeth left the UK and emigrated to the States in 2016. My wife loves Relaxing Walks as it facilitates travel around the States, helping her to discover and engage in her new surroundings on a new continent. Her dual British/US citizenship means we travel to back to England and around Europe, so Relaxing Walks isn't confined to just one country, we'll be filming European locations too. Elizabeth's an entrepreneur and runs two start-up retail companies. She's also responsible for planning and mapping the routes for Relaxing Walks and writes the blogs here.
There can be so many reasons why we can't get out and explore nature as often as we'd like. Nature provides many benefits to our health and cognition but this will be irrelevant if we continue to destroy the nature that's around us. This destruction is certain without our human reconnection to nature. There's no doubt about it, the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.
So come walk with us as we explore cities, neighborhoods, gardens, coastlines and more. Across the USA and beyond. Right through the seasons and through the elements. It's our hope that Relaxing Walks will provide you with a real sense of relaxation and bring us all closer to the beauty that surrounds us.