Gear with the most "bang for the buck"
Photography is a great way to express yourself and find your inner artist. When people see my photographs, they often ask what gear I recommend for them to try. Based on my own personal experience, I recommend the following:
The Canon T3i / 600D : I love how easy this camera is to configure. It also allows you to take bracketed shots for HDR photography and HD video.
The "nifty fifty" 50mm lens produces results that are quite similar to what you see with your own eyes. A lack of zoom might frustrate some people but the results that you get from this inexpensive lens are impressive.
Nik Software : Silver Efex Pro 2, Color Efex Pro 4, HDR Efex Pro .... Nik Software offers intuitive solutions for expressing your inner artist.