CIDH Construction

December 6-7, 2019

Drilling All Night Long

An overview of the CIDH process for building a support for a trestle.One of the absolute joys of my life as a professional photographer is when I’m commissioned to photograph something I haven’t seen before. I arrived on this site at 7pm and left the following afternoon at 3:30. CIDH, (Cast in drill hole) is a process for drilling large diameter holes into the ground. As part of this process, drilling fluid is poured into the hole in copious amounts and multiple steel casings are assembled together into one long tube, (in this case 120′) and gradually twisted downwards by an oscillator. These steps keep the hole from collapsing onto itself. After drilling a rebar cage is guided into the hole. The one on this job weighed 78 tons and I was told this was medium sized! Finish off by filling with concrete and the base support is ready for its job. Commonly used as support for trestles when building bridges and elevated roadways, this one will be the base of support for a trestle in a streetcar system currently being built by Walsh in Orange County. This nighttime site visit had rain, wind, cranes, constant noise and the “Grabber”, the beast that scoops out 7 tons of material at a time. Loved all of it! In addition to the usual and customary progress photos, when I had time and the action called for it, I set up time-lapse cameras and videoed using a gimbal. Following are two scenes from the finished film:

The Oscillator

The Grabber


Progress Photos

A medium shot of the grabber rising out of the steel casing tube

Medium shot of man in manlift spraying drilling fluid into steel casing.

Close-up image of the teeth of the grabber.

Overview shot of the rebar cage being lifted into the hole

Medium shot of the last of the rebar cage sliding into the hole.I appreciate large job sites because the camaraderie displayed by the workforce is humorous, direct and real. It’s appealing frankly. Being a sole proprietor means I spend a lot of time alone so I have to get my fix when I can. Construction workers are accommodating in this way. During downtime I chat with them about how they got into the business and why they stay. I especially like to hear about the work they perform if it’s a specialty. For some the family business is how they got in, for some get recruited at job fairs and some just like trucks and dirt, like me. It’s fascinating and I’m lucky to be part of their community even if it’s sporadic and short-lived.

Trucks, dirt and image making, what could be better!

Thanks for reading.


PS: 5 years ago I time-lapsed a similar CIDH process for the Port of Long Beach. I set up cameras and left them in place for the duration. Footage was edited by the client. Still a pretty cool video.

Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.
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