Early this year I purchased a Google Nexus 10, and ever since I've been trying to find a way to create true HDR photos on my tablet. While plenty of apps exist which combine photographs taken using your tablet's built-in camera, many of of you may wish to do "true HDR" using your own camera, in my case a Canon SX40. Your camera gives you the ability to control many settings such as aperture and shutter speed and thereby generate much higher quality images. Obtaining these kind of high quality input images are not possible with a tablet's built-in camera.
A question may come to mind. Why would I want to combine three images into a HDR photo on my Nexus 10, rather than use my laptop's Photomatrix software? Mobility is the answer! Like many of you, I am often not near my more powerful computer. While mobile I would like to learn whether my HDR photos turned out into a nice finished image. In my case, I will be taking a 2,000+ mile bike ride this Summer (Grand Gaspe Tour). For over two months I will be without my laptop and its software; it would be nice to see some finished products before the end of my bike trip.
Research seems to indicate there are not any Android apps which combine/import images from external cameras (not one's tablet's camera) into HDR images. However, the combination of Firefox, Flash, and Android's open operating system came to the rescue. A search via Google discovered a free online HDR service, Fotor. This web service allows one to import photos from any device, and then combine them into one finished HDR image. Upon first browsing to Fotor via my Nexus 10, given their use of Adobe Flash, additional pre-work was required. Android tablets including my Nexus 10 do not support Flash "out of the box". However, with some minor work that problem may be solved (i.e. using web pages that require Flash). Here are the installs and configurations required:
(click upon any of my Nexus 10 screenshots to view at full size)
- Install the Firefox Android browser.
- Install a good file manager on your tablet (I use ES File Explorer).
- Download "flash player apk v11.1". (good source with instructions).
- Navigate to the directory in which you will find your downloads.
- Via your file manager, tap to install "flash player apx".
- Via your file manager, tap to open.
- Select "open with Firefox". You may wish to select "always" for this action.
- Firefox will then open ... "tap to activate plugin"
Everything done up to this point in items #1 to #8 were one time events. You are now ready to actually create HDR images using Fotor. Your first step is to take three photos with your good camera and inport them onto your tablet (my three images and resulting HDR photo are at the very end of this post). I personally like to transfer these images to a newly created photos in the picture directory named HDR (your new app ES File Explorer will come in handy again). In addition, I like to manage my Nexus 10 photos with QuickPic. It gives much great control over your photo gallery display options.
Assuming you've taken and importes your three photos, here is the process for online HDR image creation:
- Open Firefox, navigate to Fotor, select HDR (you may need to activate your Flash plugin)
- Via Fotor, invoke the import images command to select the photos you wish to combine
- Navigate via your tablet (Nexus 10 in my case) and select your three photos
- Press <Start> to begin the upload / HDR conversion process
- A confirmation screen should appear
- Adjust your settings
- Save your new image locally (or share online)
- Confirma via your file explorer software!
Here are a few closing comments. Your finished image will not be of the same resolution as a finished product as you would create with software on your own computer such as Photomatrix, but the results are very good! In my case, the final HDR image was only 332 kilobytes. Normally, a finished product on my laptop would be in the 5 to 7 megabit range. Depending upon how you plan to use your images, this may not be a concern. In my case, I will still probably create better versions ultimately on my laptop, but this gives me an immediate option while mobile! Fotor is a great product, and it is hard to argue with the online conversion price. It's free.
My photos and end HDR image. I took these photographs near sunset without the use of flash. As I was just running a test, I did not utilize a tripod, which would be my norm for low light situations. Thus, one gets a bit of camera shake no matter how still I try to hold my camera