I wrote the app, Northern Lights Photo Taker (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/northern-lights-photo-taker/id979540312?mt=8), in lieu of threads like these :-)
The app will try its best to capture the northern lights for you based on how dim they are.
I hope this helps!
[edit - whoops! Sorry,I've failed to address why this is more convenient as mentioned in the comments below]
This app leverages the manual controls of the iDevice, which subsequently, allows you to tweak the ISO, temperatures, focus mode, and shutter speed.
Yes, there are other apps out there that allow you manually control these settings, but this app accounts for all the variables mentioned above, configured just for taking the northern lights.
I read up on a lot of articles and watched a lot of videos on how to have the best chances & techniques of taking pictures of the northern lights and translated them into a simple app.
Here are some of the tips and tricks:
"There are a few preset settings already set for you! Choose the one that makes the most sense when you see the lights.
Use the 'Weak' settings when the lights are feint; use 'Strong' when the lights are bright.
Use 'Custom' settings when you want to play around with the settings.
Shutter - The time for light to be exposed to the camera's sensor. Longer speeds may blur the lights as they move across the sky.
ISO - Camera sensitivity to light. Try somewhere between 100-400.
Expose - Long exposure time, in seconds.
Other helpful tips for great photos:
- Use a tripod if you can or keep your hand as steady as possible when taking the picture, especially during a long exposure picture.
- Darker the better, but does not have to be complete darkness.
Have fun, good luck, and enjoy the moment!"