Toronto. No technology ever arrives on the market already in its final form, including photography. The art of the picture is based on many earlier ideas that cumulated in the invention of photography; first as film and now as a digital image.
Tom’s father was a potter – you may be lucky enough to have some of the famous Wedgwood dinnerware today. Tom may have used his dad’s camera obscura in his experiments – we don’t know today. Building on earlier experiments, Tom used silver salts to sensitize paper, leather, etc.
Using the camera obscura, (or simply contact printing) he could capture a silhouette of leaves. He noted his experiments in 1802, just a few years before his death. A friend and famous chemist, sir Humphry Davy, expanded upon and presented his work in 1809 to the Royal Institution. Ironically, while Wedgwood found a way to sensitize material and capture an image, he was unable to desensitize the unexposed portions – they slowly but surely faded to black eventually making the entire sensitized material black.