Rustic Food Photography: Roast Beef

Karl and food photographer Anna Pustynnikova work together to slowly bring to life this stunning country farmhouse styled image of roast beef. Together they demonstrate essential preparation, styling and lighting techniques as well as reveal useful tricks anyone can use to enhance their food photography.

For this shot Karl and Anna wanted to simulate late afternoon sun in a homely setting. While Anna carefully prepares and styles the ingredients and props for this beautiful image, Karl uses careful control of light, along with a number creative solutions, to bring their vision to life.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Product Photography — Food Photography
  • Simulating sunlight — the best modifiers to use
  • A summary of the inverse square law
  • How to achieve a dappled lighting effect
  • How to control shadows
  • Useful tips for photographing red wine

If you enjoyed this food photography class, you won’t want to miss Anna’s live show — watch it now.


  1. Hi Karl, two short questions from a new member:

    1) So this was a mix of continuous lighting (Flooter and 2 Picos) and 1 flash (in the Softbox )?
    Did I understand that correctly?

    2) What, if any, would the (dis)advantages be if I were to shoot this scene with a Canon RF 35mm or a 50mm or 85mm lens (besides from distance to the subject)? My guess is the RF 35mm would distort a little.

    Captivating stuff, I appreciate it!

  2. This was so informative. Aside from mirrors, is there anything else you could use instead of a pico light?

  3. That was a great use of accessories to create that realistic sunlight effect; it opens up many possibilities. The result was a beautiful image. The only downside of watching these is that I get very hungry! 🙂

    1. Hi Chay, it basically acted like a lens and created a more dappled looked to the light than not using it. This was only possible though as the light was already focused from the fresnel flooter.

  4. Hey! Great class thank you! Just wondering why you used the chocolate box cover as opposed to a diffuser of the strobe?

  5. Thanks Anna and Karl, the effect of the holes in the black foam board is very nice..!.

    could be interesting to see the effect on light/shadows using a white foam board with holes.

    1. Hi Maria, Thank you but with white foam board that wouldn’t have made much difference in a studio this size as the white board is also opaque all that might have happened in a smaller space is that some light would have bounced off the top of the board to the ceiling and back down to your set putting more light into the shadows.

  6. Loving this ‘sunlight effect’, the meat in final picture looks fresh and so juicy. From the this one and the cup of tea, I am going to buy a few of those cheap reflectors you found. Thanks. 🙂

  7. Could you show a photo of the black polyboard with holes? I want to re-create something similar. Thanks

  8. It is an amazing image, and I’ve learnt a lot thank you. Please can I ask why, when you got the shadows as you want them why didn’t you clamp the foam board into place? Also, is there any way we can be notified about replies to comments please? As they do with Facebook and YouTube.

    1. Hi Mark, I thought by default the author is notified of replies but I’ll check with the web team. In answer to your other question I often find with this type of photography that ‘happy accidents’ can occur by being more flexible and seeing what happens, when we play with light and shadows which are meant to be more ‘organic’ in nature then I just like to see ‘what else’ might happen.

  9. Hi Karl,

    Do you supply the retouching part of this tuttorial because the before na d after are huge different ?

    1. Hi Hung, I’m not sure what you mean? There is almost no difference between the final shot we captured and the final shot? Where do you see a difference. I know that my only retouching on this was contrast and colour adjustments?

  10. Hi Karl. I love the way you bring your unique lighting techniques to food photography. People can be a bit stayed in their use of lighting. Not you. I think your painting with light concepts are what makes you the great tog that you are. Of course Anna too for her incredible food styling.

    1. Hi Mohammed, no this light was turned off. I decided to only go with the lights that i described in the video which were the ‘sunlight’ effect, the lights on the wine glasses and the big softbox.

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