Moonrise Death Valley, Death Valley, California, 2008 © Edgar Angelone

Look at Edgar Angelone’s black-and-white gelatin silver and platinum photographs, and you’ll see more than the beautiful scenes on which he trains his medium-format camera. His images explore the possibilities of darkness and light beyond the visual, in the realms of reverie and memory, intellect and emotion.

“My art is a unique expression of my experience as a human being,” says the 53-year-old, self-taught photographer based in San Rafael, California (www.edgarangelone.com). “Being in the world means living the darkness and light, good and evil, happiness and despair. It’s important to embrace both sides of the coin as much as possible, and experience the full spectrum of feelings in life. We can’t deny them, and we shouldn’t.”

He continues, “The darkness is what brings the light alive. That’s why the whole range, from black to white, is there in my work. Color, to me, is a distraction. I like the blackness, and the beautiful details of the highlights, because of my own experiences of darkness and light in my life.”

Nuances of blacks and whites can visually define an object’s contour and depth, in life and in photographs. Angelone takes the tonalities a step further when he slams a stone stairway with both a tenebrous heft and an angled radiance that suggests a nearby window’s band of brilliant sunlight. In that photo from his series Presidio San Francisco, the light mystifies as much as the darkness envelops.

One of my favorite images is Angelone’s “Moonrise Death Valley” from the Wind Drawings series. It joins 53 other platinum and gelatin silver photographs in his recently published 74-page hardcover monograph, Beyond Darkness and Light (Aperture F64 Editions, 2011). For me, this view of mountain and moon hints at Ansel Adams, one of his first influences (along with Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and André Kertész). The image abstracts into varying textures of darkness and light; and the visual balance of four parallel horizontal bands, alternating in light and dark, works almost like a mandala.

Joette O’Connor, owner of Photogenesis Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who has exhibited Angelone’s work since 2008, says, “Edgar’s photographs have an ethereal quality that transcends the subject matter and creates a pleasurable experience for the viewer. They exude a calmness and thoughtfulness that capture the attention and let the imagination wander.”

More of this article can be read in the Spring 2012 issue.