Photographer captures stunning image of volcano erupting under the Northern Lights

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Gisli Dua
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Photographer captures stunning image of volcano erupting under the Northern Lights
Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the northern lights. (Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)
Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano erupts under the northern lights. (Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

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(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

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(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

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(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

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(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

Old buildings in Iceland

(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

Infrared from the east part of Iceland 

(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

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(Photo by Gisli Dua, http://www.motionnature.com/)

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Check out the gallery above for photos of the eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano under the Northern Lights (originally published by TIME), and more nature photos of Iceland.

By BRITTANY VANBIBBER

Iceland is thought of by most as an unknown, exotic place. The country has very few inhabitants-- it's the least densely populated country in Europe with about 325,000 people for 40,000 square miles. That would be like spreading out the population of Honolulu, Hawaii over the entire state of Kentucky. While the country's population isn't much, the one thing Iceland is not lacking is volcanoes.

Iceland has approximately 130 volcanic mountains. The second tallest is Bardarbunga, and it erupts about two times per century. In early September, it happened again, and Icelandic based photographer Gísli Dúa Hjörleifsson was there to capture the magic with an added bonus. The volcano erupted under the Northern Lights.

"The feeling was like goose bumps [sic]. No doubt the scenery was something that I did not see coming," Hjörleifsson wrote in an email to AOL.com about seeing the eruption. "The scene only held for several minutes and I needed to get back because of sand and high wind in the area."

Hjörleifsson often finds himself in situations such as this one. His home town is Akureyi, in Northern Iceland, and like most places in the country it's just steps away from being in the thick of the wilderness. He works as a freelance photographer, but his personal passion is capturing photos of Iceland's natural scenery.

"I have seen both strange and strong situations in the nature that are similar like this one," he wrote. "But sometimes it can get really rough and you need to run. I have fallen in big rivers trying to grab a good image of a strong waterfall, or run from the high winds on Iceland's East Coast."

People from Iceland are more than used to these geographic instabilities. Hjörleifsson recounted that people in general aren't nervous about the eruptions, but that farmers and those who live particularly close are worried about their land and livestock.

Hjörleifsson started photographing nature when he was just 16 years old. Check out his photography websites here and here.

Check out the gallery below for more photos of the eruption from around the web:

36 PHOTOS
Iceland Volcano Eruptions
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Photographer captures stunning image of volcano erupting under the Northern Lights
This image provided by NASA shows an image taken by a NASA MODIS satellite acquired at 1:15 a.m. EDT on May 22, 2011 shows the ash plume from the Grimsvotn volcano casts shadow to the west. The Grimsvotn volcano began erupting on Saturday, May 21 sending clouds of ash high into the air. The amount of ash spewing from the volcano tapered off dramatically on Tuesday, however, said Elin Jonasdottir, a forecaster at Iceland's meteorological office. The blue dots are data dropouts probably caused by the very bad light in the shadow of the plume. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this photo taken on Saturday, May 21, 2011, smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles, (200 kilometers) east of the capital, Rejkjavik, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the air. (AP Photo/Jon Gustafsson) ICELAND OUT
In this photo taken on Saturday, May 21, 2011, smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles, (200 kilometers) east of the capital, Rejkjavik, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the air. (AP Photo, Jon Gustafsson) ICELAND OUT
A plume of ash rises from a volcano erupting under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, near Hvolsvollur, Iceland, Wednesday, May 5, 2010. A new wave of dense volcanic ash from Iceland snarled air traffic Wednesday in Ireland and Scotland, stranding tens of thousands of people and threatening to spill into the air space of England. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti)
Lava erupts from the volcano under Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier in central Iceland, Monday, April 19, 2010. Europe began to emerge from a volcanic cloud Monday, allowing limited air traffic to resume and giving hope to millions of travelers stranded around the world when ash choked the jet age to a halt. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti )
Smoke and steam hangs over the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, Wednesday April 14, 2010, which has erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. Volcanic ash drifting across the Atlantic forced the cancellation of flights in Britain and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Flights in and out of London Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, were halted, and the shutdowns and cancellations spread to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. The volcano's smoke and ash poses a threat to aircraft because it can affect visibility, and microscopic debris can get sucked into airplane engines and can cause them to shut down.(AP Photo/Jon Gustafsson) ** ICELAND OUT **
In this image made available by the Icelandic Coastguard taken Wednesday April 14, 2010, smoke and steam rises from the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, which erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. Authorities evacuated 800 residents from around the glacier as rivers rose by up to 10 feet (3 meters). Emergency officials and scientists said the eruption under the ice cap was 10 to 20 times more powerful than one last month, and carried a much greater risk of widespread flooding.(AP Photo/Icelandic Coastguard, ho) **EDITORIAL USE ONLY**
In this aerial photo, showing molten lava as it vents from a rupture near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, as a volcano erupts early Sunday March 21, 2010. Some hundreds of people have been evacuated from a small nearby village in southern Iceland on Sunday after a volcanic eruption which shot ash and molten lava into the air, the first major eruption here in nearly 200-years. (AP Photo/Ragnar Axelsson )
A cloud of ash erupts from Grimsvotn, a lake in the middle of Vatnajokull, the biggest glacier in Iceland, Thursday Nov. 4 2004. The Icelandic Meteorological Office reported a steady stream of ash and lava, with explosions Wednesday sending ash as much as 40,000 feet (12,000 meters) into the air. The volcano first erupted late Monday, sending a column of ash drifting toward continental Europe, landing in Norway, Sweden and Finland on Wednesday, disrupting airline flights but posing little danger, meteorological and airport officials said. (AP Photo/ Pll Stefansson)
GRIMSVOTN, ICELAND - MAY 23: The eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano sends thousands of tonnes of volcanic ash into the sky on May 23, 2011 above Iceland. The cloud has forced the closure of Icelandic airspace and spread fears of a repeat of the global travel chaos that was caused by last year's Icelandic eruption, although authorities inisist that this Grimsvotn poses a lesser threat. (Photo by NordicPhotos /Getty Images)
GRIMSVOTN, ICELAND - MAY 23: The eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano sends thousands of tonnes of volcanic ash into the sky on May 23, 2011 above Iceland. The cloud has forced the closure of Icelandic airspace and spread fears of a repeat of the global travel chaos that was caused by last year's Icelandic eruption, although authorities inisist that this Grimsvotn poses a lesser threat. (Photo by NordicPhotos /Getty Images)
GRIMSVOTN, ICELAND - MAY 23: The eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano sends thousands of tonnes of volcanic ash into the sky on May 23, 2011 above Iceland. The cloud has forced the closure of Icelandic airspace and spread fears of a repeat of the global travel chaos that was caused by last year's Icelandic eruption, although authorities inisist that this Grimsvotn poses a lesser threat. (Photo by Jon Magnusson/Getty Images)
GRIMSVOTN, ICELAND - MAY 22: *** EXCLUSIVE *** The ash plume seen at sunrise 60km away from the eruption on May 22, 2011 in the central highlands of Iceland. These dramatic aerial pictures show ash spewing 12 miles into the air from the largest volcanic eruption in Iceland in 100 years. As soon as he heard the volcanic explosion photographer, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson flew into the dark ash cloud. The Grimsvotn eruption started on Saturday and the brown ash cloud is expected to reach the UK this week. This latest eruption is ten times more powerful than the Eyjafjallajskull eruption but because the ash is not as fine it is hoped UKL air traffic will not be affected. (Photo by Orvar Atli Thorgeirsson / Barcro / Getty Images)
ICELAND - APRIL 17: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Horses grazing with the Eyjafjallaj¿kull eruption in the background on April 17, 2010 in Iceland. Spectacular images show the results of Lava Lady Kerstin Langenberger's brave solo journey on foot into the Icelandic wilderness - to capture on camera the stunning eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. Included in her spectacular collection are the awesome Aurora Borealis - or Northern Lights - over the red-hot lava flows, a perfect reflection of the smoking cone mirrored in one of the areas many lakes, and geothermal lightning sparking inside the ash cloud billowing from the crater. All of her images were taken on foot after 28-year-old dog handler Kerstin hiked to the best viewpoints alone. Stripping off to wade through freezing river sand trekking miles over mountains and hopping crevices through the country's near-Arctic conditions alone, the amateur photographer captured some of the most stunning images ever seen of the event that brought European airspace to a standstill through flight disruptive ash. (Photo by Kerstin Langenberger / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
ICELAND - MAY 10: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Eyjafjallaj¿kull continues to erupt, producing a cloud of vapour on May 10, 2010 in Iceland. Spectacular images show the results of Lava Lady Kerstin Langenberger's brave solo journey on foot into the Icelandic wilderness - to capture on camera the stunning eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. Included in her spectacular collection are the awesome Aurora Borealis - or Northern Lights - over the red-hot lava flows, a perfect reflection of the smoking cone mirrored in one of the areas many lakes, and geothermal lightning sparking inside the ash cloud billowing from the crater. All of her images were taken on foot after 28-year-old dog handler Kerstin hiked to the best viewpoints alone. Stripping off to wade through freezing river sand trekking miles over mountains and hopping crevices through the country's near-Arctic conditions alone, the amateur photographer captured some of the most stunning images ever seen of the event that brought European airspace to a standstill through flight disruptive ash. (Photo by Kerstin Langenberger / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
ICELAND - MAY 10: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Eyjafjallaj¿kull continues to erupt, producing a cloud of vapour on May 10, 2010 in Iceland. Spectacular images show the results of Lava Lady Kerstin Langenberger's brave solo journey on foot into the Icelandic wilderness - to capture on camera the stunning eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. Included in her spectacular collection are the awesome Aurora Borealis - or Northern Lights - over the red-hot lava flows, a perfect reflection of the smoking cone mirrored in one of the areas many lakes, and geothermal lightning sparking inside the ash cloud billowing from the crater. All of her images were taken on foot after 28-year-old dog handler Kerstin hiked to the best viewpoints alone. Stripping off to wade through freezing river sand trekking miles over mountains and hopping crevices through the country's near-Arctic conditions alone, the amateur photographer captured some of the most stunning images ever seen of the event that brought European airspace to a standstill through flight disruptive ash. (Photo by Kerstin Langenberger / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - MAY 15: Ash plumes from Eyjafjallajokull's crater during it's eruption, spewing tephra and ashes that drift toward continental Europe on May 15, 2010 near Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)
REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - MAY 10: Towering ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull crater during it's eruption, spewing tephra and cloud of ashes that drift toward continental Europe on May 10, 2010 near Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)
EYJAFJALLAJOEKULL, ICELAND - APRIL 24: Amazing pictures of Northern Lights over the the Eyjafjallajoekull Volcano eruption on April 24, 2010 in Iceland. Eruptions under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull area seem a long way away but the smokey fallout caused by the eruption interacting with ice and water hundreds of miles away has caused disruption to many flights and left hundreds holidaymakers stranded abroad. (Photo by Orvar Atli Thorgeirsson/ Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
Smoke and ash billow from Eyjafjallajokull volcano as it is seen from Hvolsvollur, Iceland, on April 23, 2010. Ash from a volcano in Iceland which caused Europe to lock down its skies forced the country's main airport to shut Friday, as tourism chiefs said the crisis had cost the industry 1.7 billion euros. AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
A poney grazes as smoke and ash below from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano near Porolfsell, on April 21, 2010. A vulcanologist advising the United Nations said today that European authorities had no choice but to close much of their airspace last week after a volcanic ash cloud swept in from Iceland. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Ash and smoke bellow from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano as the volcano is seen from Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, on April 20, 2010. The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland is expected to change directions and head towards the Arctic when the weather changes towards the end of the week, the World Meteorological Organization said. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke and ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano make their way across a field on April 19, 2010 near Nupur. Lava is shooting for the first time from Iceland's erupting volcano and the ash cloud has dramatically reduced. European governments opened up the continent's airspace to new flights from April 20 giving hope to hundreds of thousands of passengers around the world trapped by a cloud of volcanic ash crippling airlines. AFP PHOTO/ EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
EYJAFJALLAJOEKULL, ICELAND - APRIL 16: Amazing pictures from April 16, 2010 of the Eyjafjallajoekull Volcano eruption in Iceland. Eruptions under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull area seem a long way away but the smokey fallout caused by the eruption interacting with ice and water hundreds of miles away has caused disruption to many flights and left hundreds holidaymakers stranded abroad. (Photo by Orvar Atli Thorgeirsson/ Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
EYJAFJALLAJOKULL, ICELAND - APRIL 18: Lightning is seen within a cloud of volcanic matter as it rises from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano April 18, 2010 Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland. A major eruption occurred on April 14, 2010 which has resulted in a plume of volcanic ash being thrown into the atmosphere over parts of Northern Europe. Air traffic has been subject to cancellation or delays, as airspace across parts of Northern Europe has been closed. (Photo by David Jon/NordicPhotos/Getty Images)
EYJAFJALLAJOKULL, ICELAND - APRIL 17: A cloud of volcanic matter rises from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano April 17, 2010 in Eyjafjallajokull , Iceland. A major eruption occured on April 14, 2010 which has resulted in a plume of volcanic ash being thrown into the atmosphere over parts of Northen Europe. Air traffic has been subject to cancellation or delays as airspace across parts of Northern Europe has been closed. (Photo by Hallgrímur Arnarson/NordicPhotos/Getty Images)
EYJAFJALLAJOKULL, ICELAND - APRIL 17: EXCLUSIVE The Eyjafjallajoekull volcano erupting on April 17, 2010 in Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland. The continued eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano has brought closed European airspace for a third day and looking at these incredible pictures it may continue to do so for some time. Full time comet scientist and part time volcano photographer Marco Fulle flew at sunset over the volcano to shoot these incredible images. (Photo by Marco Fulle / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
Smoke billows from a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull on April 16, 2010. Iceland's second volcano eruption in less than a month has sent plumes of ash and smoke billowing more than 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) into the sky. The massive ash cloud is gradually sweeping across Europe and forcing the continent's biggest air travel shutdown since World War II. AFP PHOTO/HALLDOR KOLBEINS (Photo credit should read HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows from an erupting volcano by the Eyjafjallajokull glacier on April 14, 2010 near Reykjavík. Iceland's second volcano eruption in less than a month melted part of a glacier and caused heavy flooding yesterday, forcing up to 800 people to evacuate and grounding flights. AFP PHOTO/MORGUNBLADID/ARNI SAEBERG (Photo credit should read ARNI SAEBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on March 27, 2010 shows lava spurting out of the site of a volcanic eruption at the Fimmvorduhals volcano near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier some 125 Kms east of Reykjakic. With lava still gushing, a small Icelandic volcano that initially sent hundreds fleeing from their homes is turning into a boon for the island nation's tourism industry, as visitors flock to catch a glimpse of the eruption. AFP PHOTO/HALLDOR KOLBEINS (Photo credit should read HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SVANBORG SIGMARSDOTTIR This picture taken on March 27, 2010 shows lava spurting out of the site of a volcanic eruption at the Fimmvorduhals volcano near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier some 125 Kms east of Reykjakic. With lava still gushing, a small Icelandic volcano that initially sent hundreds fleeing from their homes is turning into a boon for the island nation's tourism industry, as visitors flock to catch a glimpse of the eruption. AFP PHOTO/HALLDOR KOLBEINS (Photo credit should read HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images)
FIMMVORDUHALS, ICELAND - MARCH 2010: *** EXCLUSIVE *** Lava fountains from the volcanic eruption between the Myrdalsjokull and Eyjafjallajokull glaciers during March 2010 in Fimmvorduhals, Iceland. Bursting out from the icy ground these spectacular images show a dormant volcano coming to life after 200 years. Located near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland, has attracted scientists, tourists and photographers from all over the world since it started erupting on March 21 2010. Ripping a 1-km-long fissure in a field of ice, the eruption was about 120km (75 miles) east of the capital, Reykjavik. Dutch expert volcano photographer Patrick Koster spent the last four days capturing these amazing images. (Photo by Patrick Koster / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
FIMMVORDUHALS, ICELAND - MARCH 2010: *** EXCLUSIVE *** One of two cabins on the glaciers near the eruption site named Baldvinnskali by the volcanic eruption between the Myrdalsjokull and Eyjafjallajokull glaciers during March 2010 in Fimmvorduhals, Iceland. Bursting out from the icy ground these spectacular images show a dormant volcano coming to life after 200 years. Located near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland, has attracted scientists, tourists and photographers from all over the world since it started erupting on March 21 2010. Ripping a 1-km-long fissure in a field of ice, the eruption was about 120km (75 miles) east of the capital, Reykjavik. Dutch expert volcano photographer Patrick Koster spent the last four days capturing these amazing images. (Photo by Patrick Koster / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
FLJOTSDALUR, ICELAND - MARCH 24: *** EXCLUSIVE *** A new fissure on top of Fimmvorduhals between Eyjafjallajoekull and Myrdalsjokull glaciers seen from Fljotsdalur in 30km distance on March 24, 2010 in Fljotsdalur, Iceland. Martin got to withing 250 metres of the lava fountains to achieve these stunning pictures. Bursting out from the icy ground these spectacular images show a dormant volcano coming to life after 200 years. Located near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland, has attracted scientists, tourists and photographers from all over the world since it started erupting on March 21 2010. Ripping a 1-km-long fissure in a field of ice, the eruption was about 120km (75 miles) east of the capital, Reykjavik. Volcano photographer Martin Rietze spent the last seven days capturing these amazing images. (Photo by Martin Rietze / Barcroft Media / Getty Images) (Photo by Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
1965: Earth steaming in the early morning from the lava of the previous night's eruption on Surtsey, a volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland, the year the island was born. Creation Book (Photo by Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images)
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