I'm Phil Mosby. Almost 2 years ago I quit my comfy web dev job so I could live out of my van and shoot astro-landscape photos full time. This last July, thanks in large part to Reddit, I was able to hang one of my pieces at the James Webb Space Te...
In January of 2017 I took the plunge and quit my comfy, corporate front-end web-dev job to attempt to live out my dream of shooting landscape / astro-landscape photos and making & selling prints full time. I had saved up enough money to get me through the first few months, and I already had the large format printer and a (very small and slowly growing) "following" for my photography, but I knew I wouldn't be able to survive long with the rent I was paying, so I decided I would live out of my van as long as necessary in order to make the dream (and the finances) work.
I share a shop space (glorified garage) with two other artists, without which this would not have been feasible. It has not been easy, but after almost two years I am still going strong, my business is growing, and I've had some amazing successes such as hanging one of my hexagon shaped pieces in the entry way to the James Webb Space Telescope Mission Operations Center in Baltimore, Maryland. It still amazes me every single day that I get to do this for a living, and although I have a long way to go to be as financially secure as I was with the corporate job, I have never once, not even on the hardest of days, regretted the decision to pursue this path.
In addition to the normal photography and print making, you might also recognize my name from my "Glowing Night" collection of prints which are pretty popular on Reddit. These are astro-landscape photos printed on canvas and then meticulously "glow painted" to create pieces of art that are beautiful even after dark.
As an ex web-developer / designer, I also coded every bit of my website from scratch, including special features like my Auction page which took me several weeks worth of programming, but which has turned into a large part of my income and has allowed me to grow my following and ship my art all around the world!
Using all of my skills to build a business based on something I love to do is incredibly satisfying. Knowing that people from around the world are using software I wrote to purchase art that I made by hand ... it's a special feeling and an incredible honor to be able to share my art with others and make a living doing so.
Ask me anything about astro-landscape photography, the trip to NASA, quitting the day job, plans for the future, chasing dreams, living in a van, printing & selling art, or whatever's on your mind. I'll be here until about Noon Pacific time. Thanks Reddit, I wouldn't be here without you!
EDIT: Hey guys and gals, this has been a boat load of fun but I've got to get back to work for a bit. Please feel free to keep firing the questions and I'll answer as many as I can later this evening. Thanks again Reddit, I love you.
PS: No, not related to Bill Cosby. No, you can't run in my lobby. And yes, this is classic Schmosby right here.
Edit 2 - 9/6/2018: Just one more edit. I want to say thank you so much for the Reddit Gold to the two of you who sent it my way! I was up late last night trying to reply to as many comments as possible, and I'll get through even more of them today, and thank you to all the commentors as well. If I don't reply to your specific question by the end of the day today it probably means that it was answered multiple times elsewhere in the thread, so poke around a bit, or feel free to shoot me a pm once my inbox cools off.
Regarding photo gear: A LOT of people have been asking about gear, and I've mostly avoided getting too deep into specific camera / lens / tracker / tripod models, and that is deliberate. ANY modern, full-frame DSLR can take decent astro landscape photos, and while purchasing a more expensive camera body can allow you to take cleaner photos at higher ISO, the best astro-landscape photos are going to rely more on technique than just a good sensor. I personally use an equatorial tracking mount (iOptron's line is fantastic and pretty affordable, but there are others out there as well) to enable very long exposures at low ISO and thus low noise (remember that noise is also caused by long exposure, not just ISO, so this must be kept to a limit also and your sensor quality does play a part), but there's another popular technique that involves taking several almost identical images and then using software to "stack" them and greatly reduce noise and increase detail. Check out http://deepskystacker.free.fr/ for more info on that process.
That being said, when you're first starting out who cares about a little noise, the magic is just pointing your camera at a dark sky and then seeing the amazing color and light that is actually hidden up there in plain site! Google the "Rule of 500" for a very basic primer of how to shoot the night sky with your existing gear. You will likely have very noisy images, but again, in the beginning, who cares they'll still be cool and it's great practice!
If you're just getting into astro landscape photography, it's much easier to start with a wide lens (with near infinite DOF), and I'll recommend the budget friendly Samyang 14mm as a great starter lens. They make it for both Canon and Nikon (I believe it also comes under the Rokinon brand but it is the exact same lens.)
A solid tripod is important, and if you get into using a star tracker you'll want to make sure you purchase a tripod that can hold upwards of 15 - 20 lbs comfortably.
That's all I have to say about that. Thanks again for reading, everyone. Have a great day, and get out there and shoot tonight while the moon is dark!!