Unfortunately I don’t quite recall the path of thoughts that led me to buy this book… but I’m glad that I did.

Years ago, when I used to read photography magazines, Kodak brought out a disposable panoramic camera. You take your photos then hand over the whole camera to Boots and get them to develop the film and print the photos. The photos were about 12" by 4", so about twice the width of a normal print. They worked well but were a little costly both for the camera itself and the developing. The image was just the same width as on a normal 35mm negative image, but with only the middle strip of the negative being used.

Around the same time the Innovations catalogue started to sell a panoramic camera made by Halina which you could load with normal 35mm film. The camera was beyond basic, all plastic, manual wind-on, no batteries, no focusing, no aperture, no flash and not the best viewfinder in the world but it worked well. It was so light that it became my camera of choice when I visited London. In fact I have a Pentax SF7 SLR with two lenses that I’ve never taken to the capital.

I must have read somewhere that Jeff takes photographs while he is on the set of films that he is working on. He uses a Widelux camera which is a swing-lens panoramic camera that his wife gave him as a belated wedding gift. Karen Allen saw some of the Widelux shots when they made Starman in 1984 and suggested that they make a book, with Sid Baldwins’s (the unit photographer) pictures, for the cast and crew at the end of filming. Since then Jeff has taken photos on every film that he’s worked on.

The book is hefty, because of the size of the pictures, and covers the range of films from Tron up to, and including, Seabiscuit. All the photographs are black-and-white. Some are so huge that they span both pages. Jeff has hand-written some of the notes that accompany the pictures, describing the people, the film and the location. A few of the pictures are also self-portraits with Jeff holding the camera at arms length. Others are ‘Comoedia/Tragoedia’ with two images of the same actor, one smiling and the other frowning.

Considering that the Widelux is completely manual the pictures are incredible. If you are at all interested in panoramic photography, or Jeff Bridges and his films for that matter, then this book is definitely worth investing in. Just don’t expect an in depth explanation of photography, developing and printing, just flick through it occasionally and be inspired.

Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Related Links
Widelux - Wikipedia
International Association of Panoramic Photographers