1 Stock settings
Using a tripod, set the camera to Manual mode and use a wide aperture like f/4 or f/2.8, and a fairly high ISO like 800. To begin with set a shutter speed of 10 seconds. Then simply vary the shutter speed or ISO until the exposure looks correct.
3 Minimize shake
The act of pressing the shutter button can lead to camera shake (although the effect is minimal the longer the exposure is). To be safe, use a cable release, engage your Nikon’s self-timer or enable the handy Exposure Delay Mode in your camera’s menu.
5 Look to the moon
If there’s little or no moonlight the aurora will show up more clearly in the sky. However, it also means the foreground is likely to be dark and lacking detail. A bright full moon will make the display less vibrant, but it’ll also allow you to capture landscapes in greater detail.
2 Watch your length
For fast-moving aurora, an exposure length more than 10 seconds may blur out detail like this. If so, speed up the shutter and increase the ISO to 1600 or more. If it’s moving slowly you’re free to lengthen your shutter speed and lower the ISO for better image quality.
Focusing can be a challenge, especially with a wide aperture. If there’s a visible object in the distance then try focusing on it by using Live View to zoom in. If not, then try focusing on the stars or moon. Alternatively, make a guess by setting your focus ring near to infinity.
6 Keep shooting
Keep shooting for as long as the lights are visible. The patterns can change rapidly, so one moment might look more interesting than another, and you never know if they’ll appear again. If you have a second camera use it for a time-lapse or to try a different composition.