Shooting video with the Canon 5D MkII in Helmand

It's been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened. After being inspired by other photographers that had made the switch to video I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to the Canon Eos 5D MkII and after a bit of research got hold of a Zacuto Z-Finder with some help from  Philip Bloom , and a hot shoe mounted Sennheiser mic. I had two embeds in Afghanistan in quick succession which gave me time to get used to shooting video along with the stills I needed to shoot for the newspaper, which without the Zacuto would have been impossible. When shooting stills with the same camera a shoulder mount was out of the question. All told it was a fascinating experience , and one I hope to continue.

Helmand 720p 5Dmk2 from Heathcliff O'Malley on Vimeo.

Incredibly the Photographers Year competition in the UK awarded me a highly commended in
the Multimedia category which was a real boost to my confidence ! This particular video was shot whilst with the Coldstream Guards(who were fantastic) in the Babaji district of Helmand province in December '09 and it has to be said I was helped greatly by the fantastic light that you get in Afghanistan at that time of year.....

Babaji is an area still fraught with danger, and like a lot of Helmand will take a long time to stabilise. Being mainly agricultural it's a much harder place to operate in than say Nad e Ali, which has the benefit of a reasonably sized town centre to secure and spread governance and influence from, if that is indeed what the locals wish for. I couldn't help but think that for all the tremendous effort and sacrifice being made by the young men there that most of the villagers just wanted to be left to go about the daily lives in peace without interference from a well intentioned ISAF or the Taliban, but that's just my opinion ....

The video and stills were predominantly shot using the Canon Eos 24-70 2.8L zoom which is a great lens to use on a full frame camera even without image stabilization, the Zacuto viewfinder
not only help me monitor the sharpness of the images I was shooting but was another point of contact with my body to help keep things steady.

I'd also invested in Blackhawk Tactical Cutaway body armour, which is incredibly light and comfortable but also more importantly tan in colour enabling me to blend in more to the surrounds, unlike the blue vest I used to wear which was becoming a liability on open ground, making me an easy target for Taliban snipers.....


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