(Dennis Dimick via Flickr )

Hundreds of photographers, professional and otherwise, climbed out of bed at extreme hours this morning to set up camp at the Tidal Basin. Their goal was simple — the perfect cherry blossom photo.

It’s a bit of a tradition at this point in the year, as the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom. There’s no better time to get a stunning shot than as the sun rises behind the Jefferson Memorial. The sky glows orange and blue, and the cherry blossoms are illuminated in warm light.

The path around the basin was packed.

On Tuesday, the National Park Service announced the blossoms were at the puffy white stage, which means the white and pink flowers are visible, though they haven’t started to open yet. Horticulturalists monitor a specific group of Yoshino cherry trees to track them through the six stages to peak bloom: green buds, florets visible, extension of florets, peduncle elongation, puffy white and peak bloom.

Michael Stachowicz, the turf management specialist at the National Park Service and the man behind the cherry blossom forecast, told us yesterday that peak bloom would likely be hit today. He also added that because the blossoms cover such a range of stages right now, the bloom period will probably be long.

Typically, blooms last from four to 10 days.


(Mark Andre via Flickr )

(Mark Andre via Flickr )

(Joe Flood via Flickr )