Stunning time-lapse video of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, in action

Sean Stiegemeier, who created the video embedded above, writes,

So I saw all of these mediocre pictures of that volcano in Iceland nobody can pronounce the name of, so I figured I should go and do better. But the flights to get over took forever as expected (somewhat). Four days after leaving I finally made it, but the weather was terrible for another four. Just before leaving it got pretty good for about a day and a half and this is what I managed to get

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull - May 1st and 2nd, 2010 (vimeo)

Music: Jónsi - Kolniður; shot on Canon 5d mkII, Motorized Dolly via MILapse.


  1. oooh….that’s loverly. And a bit of Jonsi to boot. I think I’m gonna have to watch that again.

    As an aside, does anyone know the story on the airplane fuselage? I’ve seen that before in a movie or video, but I can’t recall where.

  2. Beautiful video, thanks so much for sharing! I love the song as well.

    Is it just my imagination or is there a much higher than expected percentage of really beautiful music coming out of such a small country?

    Bjork and Sigur Ros alone are impressive, but then there’s just more and more all the time. Estonia (to pick a random example) has four times the population, but I’m guessing less than half the internationally known bands. (Yes, I do know about their amazing singing revolution, no disrespect to Estonia implied)

    1. Well, that just goes to show the international music scene has much less to do with quality than it does with contacts, etc. There are lots of great bands from small countries, they just don’t get played outside their countries because:
      A) They don’t have the contacts required for international distribution and/or B) The record-label big-whigs don’t think people will listen to an Estonian (or whoever) artist.

      Example: Sweden’s one of the world’s biggest exporters of music per capita, and have had a pretty steady output of internationally charting artists and bands. But how many did they have before ABBA? Virtually none – because it was the success of ABBA in the 70’s that paved the way and set up these contacts and structures which allowed others to follow. Much the same with Iceland and Björk/Sugarcubes. So while there’s little difference (with respect to anything) between say, Sweden and Norway, a Swedish band has an easier time making it big internationally, because their record executives are better connected.

      Then there’s the general phenomenon of success breeding success of course.

    2. Estonia has given us Arvo Pärt. Don’t assume that all “really beautiful music” is pop/rock.

  3. I notice the surfeit of music coming out of Iceland, as well. Sure, there’s Bjork. Then Sigur Ros (and now just Jonsi), Parachutes, Johann Johannsson and Olafur Arnalds, just off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more.

    Beautifully shot video here. The write-up regarding previous shots as “mediocre” set me against him initially, as there’s no reason to expect the world to turn this event into some kind of art exhibition, nor was anyone waiting for him to trot out there and shoot this footage. But the result of his work is beautiful.

  4. Like a warm bath for my mind. It’s truly beautiful, just like Iceland itself (I have a soft spot for tundra landscapes)

    1. “Like a warm bath for my mind.” I completely agree with this. Well, the whole comment really.

  5. Anyone know what he uses to get the silky-smooth dolly over the course of the timelapse?

    I can’t imagine him being able to lug a motion-control rig to that many places in a day and a half, and while the first half could have been pans across a larger frame in post, the waterfall, fence, and airplane shots in the second half have a real perspective shift.

  6. I loved the technique of very slowly moving the camera along during the time-lapse. It definitely added a dimension that “regular” time-lapse videos lack.

  7. wonderfull video, excelent framing.
    Could you please share with us with which camera and timelapse rig you worked with, and any tech info you may think usefull sharing

  8. I was curious about the dolly effect as well, as the result is incredible. It looks like Kessler Crane – – makes commercial versions of these dollies, both motorized and manual. I assume you would need a motorized version to get such fine control.

    Anybody have any firsthand experience trying this technique? Any tips for a DIY solution?

  9. My first thought was “wow, beautiful”.

    My second thought (upon seeing the fuselage) was “wow, they have rednecks in Iceland?”

  10. I guess I’m the only one who found the music completely incongruous with the video, and not in an ironic yaety Sax kind of way.

    Fortunately Koyaanisqatsi was on iTunes at the time. Much much better.

  11. Xeni! I just love your post here. You do awesome interviews and have great insights. Keep rockin this website you sexy thang!

  12. These are some pretty shots of the ash cloud.

    The nice thing about those “mediocre pictures” is that they existed and were available in March, whereas this was two months late.

    The other nice thing about the pictures is that they showed lava.

  13. The music was nice, but didn’t really fit in with the video. It was the wrong style, and just too cliched. Surely there must be other Iceland music to choose from, if the music must be Icelandic?

  14. It is weird to see something that caused a catastrophe for travelers, airlines, economies and the environment, “beautified.” It says something about the capacity of photography to mask reality with pretty pictures. It is like seeing beautiful images of impoverished people that allow us avoid seeing the significance of our neglect. Watching ash spew to beautiful music helps us to deny the disaster and relax with a feel-good image of hell-bent nature.

    1. Um… the volcano *is* the environment. Maybe it’s the travellers and airlines that are ugly.

      1. The airlines and travelers are parts of the environment, too. Just parts that tend to be disruptive to much of the rest of it. Like this volcano.

  15. Hey I’m the creator of the timelapse dolly that Sean took with him to shoot this footage!! Check it out: www

  16. that is breath taking i’m quite literally speechless at the beauty of mother nature and your ability to capture it’s potential in such a short space of time. My hat comes of to you!!

  17. Isabella, ‘hell-bent’ nature is often filled with beauty. Take lightening for example. Seeing the beauty of the poor, the hurting, and ‘hell bent nature’ does nothing to release us of our humanity and compassion in trying to help those in need whether from the ravages of war, nature, or poverty.

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