BY Jamie Wanzek
Professor Steve Ellsworth can be found teaching Math and Science courses at Sierra Nevada College. With camera in hand Ellsworth also demonstrates an eye for photography, outside the classroom. This fall, Ellsworth experienced viral fame when his photograph of the King Fire earned National recognition. With the long-time hobby of photography, Ellsworth enjoys combining his professional and personal interests.
“I’ve always had an interest in science and math, and photography is something that all comes together here at the lake. I’ve also always been interested in Fire-Ecology and taught Environmental Science here at SNC,” Ellsworth said.
While the King Fire was beginning to expand rapidly, Ellsworth was contacted by a friend who works as a firefighter explaining, “Steve you’ve got to get down to the lake for photos! There are these amazing pyrocumulius clouds(a dense cloud associated with fire beginning to form).”
With a background in Environmental Science and Fire Ecology, Ellsworth knew the pyrocumulius clouds would create a breathtaking sunset over Tahoe.
After class on a Wednesday, Steve went to Incline Beach with his camera.
“After watching the clouds, I knew the sunset would be absolutely spectacular. So I sat there and watched, planning photos. As soon as the sun went behind the pyrocumulius clouds, these brilliant colors came out.”
That evening, he posted the photos on his personal Facebook. Little did he know that internet stardom awaited him.
Later that evening, another firefighter friend reposted one of his photos to a Facebook site for firefighters. This site allows friends and family in the community to touch base with loved ones. After the image was shared to the site, it went viral.
“I am a scientist, and I think we need to allocate more funding for the fighting of these fires and the prevention,” said Ellsworth. “We as a society are not spending enough financial resources, social resource or any resource at all, and I think that resonated with people.”
Ellsworth saw an opportunity to bring attention toward the funding and fighting of these fires through his photography.
“The image got re-tweeted and re-shared thousands of times that one night. I think what resonated with people was that it was a beautiful image, but also the connection with Tahoe. People thought what we could lose with this fire,” Ellsworth said.
According to Ellsworth that evening and following morning, his Facebook site and email exploded. He went through media outlets in Boise, Seattle, Los Angeles and large media networks NBC, CBS Nightly News and the Associated Press.
“I had always heard about videos and images going viral but I didn’t realize what people go through,” said Ellsworth.
The entire week, Ellsworth spent all his time responding to emails and Facebook messages regarding his photography and media credits.
By the end of the week, Ellsworth was contacted by Channel 3 KRCA. This time he was asked to call them at 7 a.m. Half-asleep before a cup of coffee, Ellsworth contacted the news anchor. They said, “Oh Steve! Thanks for calling us, we’d like to interview you at 7:10 a.m. for a live interview.”
“While still in my pajamas, I collected my thoughts. I was told someone would call back in a few minutes at 7:08, and then at 7:10 you will hear the news anchor talking about your image,” Ellsworth said.
Channel 3 KRCA was able to find Ellsworth’s Flicker account where the entire series of photos taken of the fire were shared. They shared his images on television while they interviewed him about the photos and where one would reach him, if they wanted the images.
“Thats when I realized I could plug the college and put SNC’s name out there. I explained that people can contact me through SNC if they wanted the images. I sure enough got emails through my school email,” said Ellsworth.
Throughout the hectic week, Ellsworth explained what he learned about media and how it is shared rapidly.
“I learned the challenges of journalists today and the power of social media, I think amateurs have really closed that gap between professionals with digital photography. I think going into journalism and photography would be a huge challenge,” Ellsworth said.
While photography remains a hobby, Ellsworth concludes the experience was once in lifetime.
“I don’t know what I could ever do again that would be on the same scale,” Ellsworth said.
I’ve been studying journalism since freshman year of college. Generally with a focus on travel and snowboarding. I’ll be the first to say it’s pretty trendy.
I do it because it’s fun and there’s a market for it, but I’ve decided it’s time to start expanding my focus as a writer. There is a lot going on outside the small industry of snowboarding that I have been covering as a journalist, and outside the small boundaries of our school for that matter.
The WTF column is a new addition to the Eagle’s Eye that I will be leading this semester, open to guest submissions, that will allow myself and other students to bring up controversial issues that may have otherwise been missed by students and faculty at our school.
I will be breaking the journalism value of proximity for this column.
What you read here will address issues that are happening as close as our school cafeteria, to as far as other countries.
I’m doing this because I know first hand that as college students we lived hectic lives.
It’s easy to get caught up in our busy schedules and forget to check in with the rest of the world. Knowing who you can trust in the media and finding reliable news sources is also difficult and can be overwhelming.
For these reasons, I will be doing the dirty work, double checking sources and making sure that the news provided here is reliable.
The goal of this column is to expand my focus as a writer while informing students about important issues taking place in our community, as well as events throughout other parts of the world. WTF will serve as a fun, yet informative way to make us all ask the questions: How did we not know about this situation? How did this situation arise and WTF can be done to help?
The first WTF article will be printed in next week’s edition of the Eagle’s Eye, as well as posted online at snceagleseye.com.
I am open to any submissions, whether it is something you’d like to hear about and don’t have time to research, or maybe a situation you would like to vent about in your own words. Either way, I’m open to it, so email me with your thoughts!
Contact me at:
As an incoming student at SNC, students must experience the dorms as an initial step in their higher education. With SNC’s largest incoming class arriving, many are questioning the residence hall policies.
“We have a total of 194 students in the dorms, one of the highest incoming classes. Last year we had around 180 which is only 10-15 more students this year,” said Lizzie Thibodeau.
While the increase of students is minimal, they have seen a large difference in the living situation among the dorms.
“What bothers me is that I requested a double (room) and they explained they were running out of space, and asked ‘do you think you could spare for a triple?’, just before school started. Therefore we involuntarily agreed and are working through the situation.” said Freshman Celine
For some students, this policy can be burdensome when trying to expand their horizons of Incline Village and Lake Tahoe area.
“The two year policy should be more of an option than a requirement. I think there should be a way you can prove that the second year is not necessary for an individual, rather than forcing it upon the students,” said Sophomore Nelly Steinhoff.
Few global metropolises can compare with the journalistic powerhouse that is New York City. Therefore, the Sierra Nevada College Eagle’s Eye Newspaper staff set their sights on the College Media Association’s Spring National College Media Convention in the freezing Big Apple.
Does the availability of social media become a problem when voicing individual opinions and judgments? How soon is too soon to turn initial emotions into comments, which could be both misguided and clouded with misinformed conclusions? Are users too quick to take a headline, cutline or photograph as evidence they’ve read an article?
Now is the time to start focusing on what you want to do as a career. There is nothing more important than personal branding according to Milena Regos, a marketing expert who held a talk about Personal Branding at 5:30 p.m. on March 27 at Sierra Nevada College.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” has been heavily discussed in every newspaper and political setting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.