< Earth, Rain and Fire

Groundwater flowing out of the earth coalesces with the tannin stained rain waters of the Santa Fe River at Ginnie Springs.

Throughout my life I have always had a deep desire to capture images of the natural world. My first big purchase as a kid was a Nikonos camera. I knew back then that photography was something I had to do, a language to let me communicate what I could not express any other way.

North Florida’s rivers, and springs are the canvas that I choose to focus my effort. Born and raised here, I feel fortunate to have grown up in the land of mysterious waters. The first time I pulled back the bushes and saw a spring I knew these magical places would be a permanent part of my life. Our area offers one of the greatest natural wonders on earth. A giant, three-dimensional karst terrain that produces a renewable resource of the finest water on earth. I can think of no place on the planet more worthy of my attention and love than my own backyard.
< Secrets to be Explored

The Devil’s Ear in the basin of the Santa Fe River beckons explorers in.

Earth’s Sweet Breath >

A golden steam rises from water born of the earth on a crisp winter morning on the Santa Fe River

Below: The Jade Grotto

Troy Springs, one of Florida’s
most beautiful first
magnitude springs

The first objective of my image making is to capture what I am experiencing. This varies greatly from most image makers, which have a talent for capturing what they see. It is extremely rare that this happens for me spontaneously on a photographic outing. More times than not my images represent an evolutional crafting that may keep me working on an image for years. Honestly, I’m never sure of what I’m doing until the right elements of light, technology, mood, and the environment all line up for that one magical moment.

Certainly, one of the greatest challenges for me has been the forced mixing of technology with artistry. In the alien and aqueous world of subterranean caves this has proven to be a greater challenge than one might ever imagine.
Ichetucknee >

The Crown Jewel of Florida’s pristine rivers and springs.

Left: Fantasy of Flight

Seemingly suspended in mid-air, canoers enjoy the sensation of flight above the air clear waters of Cypress Spring.

Above: DiePolders II

No place on earth better exemplifies the beauty, wonder and intrigue of cave diving inside of the Floridan Aquifer than Diepolders II.

The goal, to drag an enormous amount of expensive, flood-prone, tempermental and dangerous electronic equipment into an environment of perpetual darkness and hope everybody and everthing does their job. It has to be the only form of photography where you have no idea what you have created until after you get the film back. The quest to build equipment, techniques, and methods necessary to capture these images has lasted decades and has required a tremendous amount of patience and support from a team of the best dive buddies I could have ever hoped to find.
Left: River Rise

Morning light reveals springtime beauty on the Santa Fe River.

As divers we get to live out a Peter Pan fantasy of flying weightless within a dreamscape of unparalled beauty. The things we see and the places we explore have a deep and profound impact on us all. For me the goal has always been to share our world with others in hopes of touching someone’s heart. It could be a smile, or a moment of awe, but the best result is when an image reveals beauty and wonder that you never knew existed. My greatest pleasure is when my images impower others to act on behalf of our fragile ecosystems. In those moments, I trust the passions that I have placed into my images are being applied to their highest and best use.

Wes Skiles

Right: Ginnie Spring

Dawn’s light reveals the rising of the earth’s most precious resource.

Right: Lure of the Labyrinth

Descending into the wonders of Ginnie Springs.

Above: Sweetwater Cave

Explorer Mark Long in the Upper Level of Sweetwater Cave.

Karst Productions
5779 NE County Rd. 340
Highsprings, FL 32643
Right: Fanning Spring Manatee

The warm waters of Florida Spings are home to the endangered manatee.

A tribute to our friend and fellow explorer
Wes Skiles
1958 - 2010