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Stunning photos: Close-up capturing Iceland's erupting volcano

Jon Gustafsson

The Grimsvotn volcano erupting on Saturday, May 21.

Photographer Jon Gustafsson captured these powerful images of the Grimsvotn volcano erupting on Saturday.

Gustafsson writes:  "It took us 90 minutes to fly to Grimsvotn with a strong wind against us. The eruption looked magnificent in the sunset. We got there at 11 pm. Once we landed 5 miles away from the crater the cold air hit us like a truck. We tried to work outside but I only lasted for a couple of minutes. Pilot Reynir Petursson also didn't want to stay on the ground for too long since it was very windy and the ash fall was unpredictable. The light was also disappearing and he needs visual reference which is difficult on a white glacier. Once we got off the ground again we had to stay low because there were so many lightnings all around the eruption. Getting hit by a lightning in that strong wind, extreme frost and next to a live volcano was not desirable."

Jon Gustafsson/AP

Smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano on Saturday, May 21. Grimsvotn volcano lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles east of the capital, Rejkjavik, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004.

Jon Gustafsson / AP

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.

Jon Gustafsson

Gustafsson talks with TODAY.com's Dara Brown about the stunning images he took within two hours and two miles of the eruption, in the video below. 

Photographer Jon Gustafsson captures stunning images of Iceland's erupting volcano. Gustafsson talks with TODAY.com's Dara Brown about the amazing and violent images he captured within two hours and two miles of the eruption.