Setting up your average tripod for doing macro work is like helping a giraffe with knee problems get a drink from a puddle. By the time you’ve got the whole thing set up, the light has changed, your subject has wandered off, and you couldn’t get quite the angle you wanted.
The Gorillapod has been such an amazing solution to my problems. They market it as something to wrap around trees and fences and stuff, but I prefer it just perched on the ground like a regular tripod, but with near instant setup and flexibility.
You may have even seen these in the store. My first Gorillapod was given to me by my grandmother, and like the ones in the stores it was meant for those tiny point and shoot cameras. It would fall over under the weight of my camera lens when I used it with my SLR. After a bit of research I found that they make a very nice larger model specifically to use as a tripod for SLR cameras. This Gorillapod for SLR cameras has machined aluminum sockets and holds up to 11 pounds. I’m really impressed by the feel and quality of this thing. The feet and the widest point of each socket have a firm grippy rubber that really gives me confidence that t won’t slide around, and the sockets take just the right amount of force to bend that they are adjustable without being weak. The top and the base are two separate pieces, and are sold separately or together. The Ballhead X top has a nice swivel and pan feature which adds to the flexibility, but isn’t crucial if you’re feeling thrifty.
This SLR Gorillapod is one of the few really nice camera accessories in that $80-$150 range. I highly recommend it as a nice gift for the photographer in your life. The’ve got a nice selection of them here on amazon.