Hill was trained as a painter but became famous for his pioneering work in photography (with his partner Adamson). He often exhibited photographs alongside his landscape paintings. This view of Edinburgh was based on photographs Hill made in 1846 and many of the figure groups were also inspired by the camera. The vantage point is from the Edinburgh Castle, looking east, down the Royal Mile. The New Town is on the left. The Royal Scottish Academy is the classical building at the foot of The Mound, and the empty site beside it was where the foundations of the Scottish National Gallery were laid in 1850.