St. Andrews, Scotland, like Newhaven, was a fishing town. This image of St. Andrews fisherfolk, however, contrasts with Hill and Adamson's (David Octavius Hill [1802-70] and Robert Adamson [1821-48]) Newhaven pictures. Instead of focusing on individuals, the photograph captures a street scene.
For all its spontaneity and apparent objectivity, this work is just as controlled as any other Hill and Adamson print. The figure of the woman striding across the cobblestone road suggests that a moment in time has been captured, but because any movement would have rendered her a blur, she must be standing still, holding her position (as well as her basket and child). This was quite an accomplishment, considering that the exposure time may have ranged from thirty seconds to a couple of minutes. A variant of the plate presents a somewhat different group arrangement, but the same woman is still crossing the street, suggesting that Hill and Adamson made multiple exposures to test various visual ideas.
Anne M. Lyden. Hill and Adamson, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), 88. ©1999, J. Paul Getty Museum.
For more information about the places Hill and Adamson photographed see: Hill and Adamson: Place