This is a photograph from the aurora of August 12, 2000 during the Perseid Meteor show. A lot of people saw this aurora show because they were awake at 2AM for the Perseids.
Even though Oregon and Michigan are at about the same latitude, if you live in Michigan, you have a greater chance of seeing the aurora than John does in Oregon because Michigan is closer to the magnetic north. The advantage in Oregon is that the sky is darker and there are some great 7000 foot lookouts that you can drive to for viewing and photographing the northern lights. From these high vantage points it almost looks like seeing the aurora from space.
Here is an another aurora photograph taken the same night just as the moon was setting. Notice that the light of the moon changes the color of the upper aurora from red to magenta.
Here is the shot of Smith Rock (located in Central Oregon) with aurora and partially overcast sky on March 31st, 2001.
Here is a flame aurora taken in Alaska on Halloween night October 31st 1991 at about 11pm. This was also the time frame of The Perfect Storm movie when there were 100 foot waves in the north Atlantic. Note the constellations of Perseus and Auriga.
John finds that one of the best films for photographing the northern lights is Sensia 100 pushed 1.5 stops and using a fast wide angle lens for 15 seconds (F2.0 or faster). For slower lenses like F 2.8 use Provia 400F, expose 10 to 20 seconds and push process 1.5 stops. He uses a tripod and the camera on the B (bulb) setting and he locks up the mirror if possible. It is also good to take off the UV filter over the lens as it causes moive patterns due to the coherent nature of aurora light. He likes a 35mm or wider lens so that he can frame the aurora with the landscape. Avoid power lines and poles as they really look ugly.