Gitzo GT-1550T Traveler 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod with G1077M Ballhead (Street: $640)
This superlight carbon-fiber tripod weighs in at just 2.2 pounds, or about a kilogram, but can support nearly ten pounds. It extends to 57.5 inches, but folds down to a slim 14 inches. In other words, it's small enough to fit in a carry-on sized bag, but strong enough to handle even a pro camera with some long glass attached. Less weight and size on the 'pod means more room for other gear, and we like that a lot!
Think Tank Hydrophobia 300/600 (Street: $149 for cover, plus $35 for custom eyepiece for specific cameras)
If your special photographer has really long glass -- we're talking 300mm f/2.8s and up, odds are they are hardcore shooters. The kind who aren't going to let a little rain get in the way of a wildlife expedition or sports shoot. And they've probably got some sort of rain gear for their camera, but probably nothing that's as well-designed as Think Thank's Hydrophobia. It can be pre-attached to the lenshood for quick mounting should the weather take a turn for the worse. But what's even better? It's got two elastic-corded arm sleeves: one for controlling the camera, and the other for focus and zooming. Really, it's just about the best long-glass rain cover we've come across.
Lowepro Omni Trekker Extreme (street: $255)
This is really two camera cases in one. The hard shell is an ultra-tough, lockable Pelican 1520 Extreme Case that's tough enough to survive pretty much anything thrown at it, whether it's water, impacts, or just rattling around the trunk of a backcountry 4x4. Inside lies a removable Omni Pro bag that can be slung over a shoulder or worn as a backpack, all while carrying a respectable amount of pro-level gear for demanding location shoots.
Dynamic Photo HDR 2.01: (direct: $39)
Your landscape photographer can get his Ansel on with this economical but feature-packed High Dynamic Range (HDR) generation and Tonemapping program. There are six Tonemappers for HDR effects ranging from subtle photorealistic to over-the-top surrealism. Best yet for your aspiring pro? Quick and easy monochrome conversions in either true grays or any tint imaginable.
Check out our tutorial and review of v1.8.
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended (street: $999)
Yes, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended is about $350 more than the regular version of Photoshop, but here are two great reasons to consider an upgrade:
• Still-image based video output -- timelapse, stop action, or chop action -- that's about 10-click-easy for output as QuickTime movies for any host of mobile devices or monitors, all the way up to HDTV 1080p for sharing that spectacular sunset sequence on your widescreen HDTV.
• Ten-click-easy "Tourist Erasing" with Smart Object Stacks. Snap a few frames of the identical scene from a tripod, import the series into Photoshop CS3 Extended, click a few buttons, and you've got the Grand Canyon all to yourself!