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Why “Loki” is my New TV Series for Father and Son Streaming

If you’ve been looking forward to watching “Loki” on Disney+ with your kids, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s my review.

I always enjoyed watching Tom Hiddleston’s Loki throughout the Marvel movies. His god of mischief was especially interesting because of the flaws and tragic elements of his early story that made him who he was.

The end of his story in “Avengers: Endgame” was tough to watch, not only because it was so brutal, but because he would never get his chance to redeem himself.

At the end of the day, even though Loki always caused problems, we were still rooting for him…at least I was. All that pain and anger that was just under the surface and rarely revealed by the talented Hiddleston was plenty reason to forgive his naughtiness.

It was hard to say goodbye. And I’m really glad his departure was short-lived.

It’s All Part of the Plan
As I expect you already know, Disney+ has resurrected Loki and given him his own series. It picks up after that time-altering glitch during “Avengers: Endgame” when the Avengers go back in time to get the Tesseract as part of their Infinity Stone collection project. They mess up this part of their mission and Loki escapes his custody via the Tesseract, which isn’t what happened the first time around.

Beyond a momentary setback for the Avengers, it’s an amusing scene in the movie. And the consequences for Loki aren’t addressed. He’s still (spoiler alert) dead at the end of the story, but when you mess with time, there are always unexpected consequences.

It’s a fantastic bread crumb, and I applaud the architects of the larger MCU for dropping it in this way.

Loki Variant
I watched the series premiere of “Loki,” and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, Loki gets another chance to get it right, but this clever and snappy series is much more than that. It introduces so many new elements into the MCU that you’ve got to pay attention…Time Variance Authority/Multiverse/Time Keepers/Variant People/Sacred Timeline. You need a training film to keep it all straight. (Yep, they’ve got that!)

It’s fresh. It’s retro. It’s trippy.
It’s really fun.

The writers also quickly get to the heart of Loki’s flawed character and make him face his past and future choices. It’s essentially a breakthrough therapy session managed by Mobius (Owen Wilson’s TVA character). It feels quite cathartic.

I can’t wait for the next episodes where Loki and Mobius try to fix the timeline and confront the big threat. Plus, you’ve got the god of mischief being asked to follow the new rules and prevent multiverses. What could possibly go wrong?

Family Friendly?
Across the pandemic, my eleven-year-old son and I effectively consumed all the Marvel movies on Disney+. We also massively enjoyed “The Mandalorian” series.

Sure, the Marvel movies have some bad language and plenty of intense action, but it’s been okay for our kid at his particular stage of development.

My wife and I did watch the first episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” with our young Padawan. (Apologies for mixing universes.) We felt the increased level of bad language and violence was a step too far for our boy. (The whole series is pretty dark.)

So, I did not suggest that we watch the next episode, and my son didn’t complain. (Instead, we moved on to “Agents of Shield” on Netflix. That series also got too dark for him.)

I enjoyed “WandaVision,” and will eventually introduce that Disney+ series to my boy. I haven’t done that yet, because it moved so slowly in those first few episodes. Plus, you’ve really got to be a child of ‘60s and ‘70s television to appreciate them.

Granted, I’ve only seen the first episode of “Loki,” but I feel this series is perfect for my son. Like me, he’s especially enjoying the humor and mind-bending quirkiness.

Plus, there’s minimal bad language (so far) and the violence is relatively tame. That’s not to say there’s no action… there’s plenty!

Yes, I did prescreen the first episode, (after being burned by “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”) but now, I’m planning to watch the rest of the “Loki” series alongside my son.

Wednesday is the New Friday
I’m not sure why new episodes of “Loki” are dropping on Wednesdays as opposed to Fridays. Perhaps it’s a summer scheduling strategy. I’ll still plan on making it a Lester Friday night family event.

So please don’t give anything away while I time shift our viewing. We’ll be just a bit behind everyone else’s timeline.

Looking forward to a summer of Loki-goodness!

How to Use Apple’s Photos App to Quickly Create a Memory Movie

If you need a way to display a group of photos in a movie-like presentation, Apple’s Photos app can do this trick for you. Here’s how.

Apple’s Photos app on a Mac contains the powerful functionality to organize your pictures into collections and then display them as “Memory Movies,” complete with photo zooms and transitions. The app does this on its own to generate unexpected and often delightful photo-montage movies from your photo archive.

But you can also put the Photos app to work to create a Memory Movie using your own (human-directed) collection of pictures.

It’s simple to do, and with a couple of clicks, you can also add music and a title graphic.

How to Make a Memory Movie
The trick to quickly creating a Memory Movie is choosing one of your existing albums of photos. But it’s also not hard to create a new album for this use. The bottom line is the album feeds your movie structure.

Once you’re in your album, you’ll see the option on top to click on “Show as Memory” or “Slideshow.” (The difference is Slideshow doesn’t contain the photo moves and zooms.)

On the next page that appears, you’ll see your Movie Memory ready to start.
Click the play icon.

That’s it!

To adjust your music choices, click on the tools icon on the right side of the playback controls.

Fast and Good Enough
Once you understand the easy steps to creating a Memory Movie, you can pull one together in minutes by using one of your existing albums.

It’s a much faster process than importing your photos into a video editing program and then manually setting up all of the photo transitions before exporting your video file.

Sure, a manually-edited version would be more creatively precise. (AI-directed photo moves and transitions can sometimes be a bit off balance.) But I’d say for most uses, letting your computer do the work is just fine.

A Memory Movie is also an especially simple way to quickly pull together and share a collection of photos for a Zoom meeting.

A couple caveats: You can’t create a Memory Movie using a shared album. It needs to be one that lives locally on your Mac. And you can’t actually export your Memory Movie into a separate file. The movie experience is generated and remains within the Photos app.

Display your Memories
There are any number of ways to display digital photos these days. But if you’re already using the Photos app for your photo management, this quick and easy presentation trick is a no-brainer.

Why Cropping into your Photos can Save your Shots

When editing your camera’s photos, you might need to look for the shot within the shot. Here are some examples.

After you snap a photo, you may have a good sense whether you’ve captured the image you want. Instant digital review certainly is a wonderful thing. But I would recommend not immediately deleting a photo that didn’t catch the moment or missed its intended focus point. Perhaps there’s a different element in the shot you’re not aware of that is in focus.

If you take a little time to study these photos, it’s amazing what you might find hidden in plain sight. And thanks to those many millions of pixels that are crammed into photos, you can usually crop deep into the image to pull out a detail with clarity.

No, it’s not quite like that scene from “Blade Runner” where Harrison Ford’s Deckard closely examines a digital photo and tells the computer to “move in and enhance.” But it’s amazingly close. You may not be able to print a large poster of your super-cropped photo, but it’ll likely still look great on your smartphone or computer screen.

Follow the Focus
I enjoy snapping flower shots with my Panasonic Lumix LX10. I prefer using manual focus in the attempt to make the flower pop out of its blurred background (bokeh).

But since the area of focus is especially narrow, it’s easy to miss the mark.

Instead of discarding these three pics that missed their focus targets, I followed the camera’s focus and then cropped in to save the shots.
(I use Adobe Lightroom.)
Yes, I missed the center of this flower, but the crisp edge of the petal is still interesting.

Much of this alien-like plant looked blurry, except for the tip of the back blooming stem. So, I zoomed in super tight to center on those crazy red sprouts.

Most of these fallen tree blossoms on my driveway ended up out of focus, but I cropped in tight enough to locate a few that weren’t caught in the blur.

Find your Needle in the Haystack
Even if focus isn’t a problem, you may still want to crop into a portion of a photo to give it some punch. If the entire shot isn’t that special, perhaps there’s a strong section to highlight.

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking with family and friends over the past year, and I’ve discovered that stunning views in nature don’t always translate into a quickly snapped photo. That usually happens to me when I try to take shots of a bubbly stream in a forest. It’s difficult to capture that sparkly view. So, when editing those pics, I sometimes explore the motion in the water.
In this cropped image I snapped with my iPhone, I was drawn to the linear patterns in the water created by the stream’s rush over rocks.

Show a Piece of the Puzzle
Beyond using this photo-cropping technique as a fix, you may find ongoing enjoyment in intentionally creating cropped shots that represent a piece of a larger story. (I certainly have.)

Sometimes a taste is all you need to fill in the rest.

I’ll give you a hint: My 5th grader’s science experiment using salt, hot water and a piece of string

If you’re still left with a mystery, is that so bad?

Less is More
I often like to say that “less is more” in visual storytelling. This perspective comes from my professional experience in video content creation and has certainly held up throughout my personal photography work.

Enjoy your own exploration of all of those smaller spaces in your photos.

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