Gastonia, North Carolina (PressExposure) November 19, 2008 -- When Konica-Minolta announced that they were exiting the camera business, Tom Bonner realized he had to make a decision. A Minolta user for decades, Bonner was suddenly looking at a photo landscape devoid of future Minolta offerings.
Electronics giant Sony announced they were acquiring all the photographic assets of Konica-Minolta, and Bonner faced the choice of switching brands or staying the course with newcomer Sony.
That was in 2006. Since then, Bonner made the decision to move into the Sony camp, started a popular blog about Sony Alpha cameras and has just completed a book about the Sony A300 and A350 dSLRs.
"It's been a interesting couple of years," Bonner smiles. "I was somewhat concerned about whether Sony would maintain the quality and innovation that the Minolta cameras offered. Today, I am very happy with the direction Sony has taken with their Alpha dSLRs. The cameras are great; they are easy to use, reliable and they make great images."
Bonner began his photographic career in the mid-seventies. Covering motorsports and the Detroit auto industry, Bonner's photos began to appear in national magazines throughout the country. He traveled extensively on assignment, creating images of cars, events, travel locations and outdoor subjects.
In the nineties, Bonner entered the graphic arts industry, spending a decade working at the Detroit office of Applied Graphics Technologies. There he was involved in all phases of high-end advertising graphics. He worked closely with many of the top art directors in Detroit, learning how to produce the highest quality print material. Much of the work consisted of retouching images in Adobe Photoshop.
"The Detroit agencies take their advertising images very seriously," Bonner attests. "The art directors were great to work with, but when it came to their images they were incredibly demanding. You were expected to turn out flawless work under the tightest of deadlines. It was hard work, but thanks to that period I can cut Photoshop masks in my sleep."
The new millennium found Bonner behind the lens once again, this time photographing million-dollar beach homes along the North Carolina coast. The images were designed to be used on the Internet, and Bonner began to leverage the skills he learned in the prepress industry toward designing high quality websites.
He quickly masted the intricacies of CSS, Javascipt, Flash and advanced HTML. Of course his Photoshop skills fitted perfectly into this new scenario, as did his photographic experience. He continued to shoot film, but he started to incorporate digital cameras into his repertoire. With his extensive digital experience at AGT, working with multimedia formats was second nature to him.
With Minolta out of the picture, Bonner determined to start writing about the new Sony Alpha. He started a blog for Sony and Minolta SLR users at alphatracks.com. Alphatracks covers both film and digital pursuits. Digital topics, however, are becoming much more prevalent.
"I still love my old Minolta film SLRs, but that train has left the station," Bonner explains. "I am excited about shooting digital. I love the immediacy of seeing what you shot and the ability to tailor the ISO to the shooting conditions. I've found that my experience with my old manual film SLRs translates very well to the Alpha dSLR cameras."
In 2008 Bonner accepted an offer from Wiley Publishing to write the Sony Alpha DSLR-A300/A350 Digital Field Guide.
"This was a wonderful experience," Bonner says. "The people at Wiley were great to work with, and I really enjoyed shooting with the A350. I worked very hard to make the features and settings of the A300 series easy to understand by dSLR newcomers, while at the same time including material useful to more seasoned photographers."
The book is part of the Wiley Digital Field Guide series. Each book in the series focuses on a particular digital camera, exploring the menus and controls in detail. In addition, each guide provides information on lenses, flash units and accessories. There are also sections on photographic workflows, troubleshooting and resources.
"My favorite part was developing the photography exercises section," Bonner says. "The idea of this section is to provide exercises that users of all skill levels can follow to improve their photographic techniques. The section runs the gamut from sports-action photography, to travel, to portraiture, to black & white photography. Hopefully, readers will learn some new techniques to enhance their images under specific conditions."
Now that the book is completed, Bonner has returned to blogging at Alphatracks, as well providing event photography and web design to corporate clients.