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Photo: Gary Hershorn—Corbis

Pictures of the Week: May 23 - May 30

Two bolts of lightning hit the antenna on top of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan as an electrical storm moves over New York.

See the full gallery at TIME.com

Photo: Scott Conarroe

Canadian photographer Scott Conarroe explores the space between massive public projects and everyday human existence in photographs that have charted North American railways and coastlines, and now the construction of China’s ultra-futuristic transit system. His work is featured in the 2014 Contact Photography Festival, opening this Saturday, May 5 in Toronto.

See the story here

Courtesy KesselsKramer

A new book of found photographs from the 1980s show a Chinese woman’s strange relationship to an unlikely status symbol: her TV.

Photograph by Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding/Reuters

March 10, 2013. A female giant panda, Ke Lin, watches a panda mating video at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Sichuan province. According to the staff of the research base, they showed Ke Lin this video trying to teach her know how to mate as she kept rejecting her. After watching this video, Ke Lin and Yong Yong successfully mated.

TIME Picks the Most Surprising Photos of 2013, a look back at a selection of underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors.

Photograph by Kim Kyung-Hoon—Reuters

Aug. 1, 2013. A worker takes a rest while he operates on the exterior of newly built building in Beijing.

From violence in Egypt and the first gay marriages in Rhode Island to Zimbabwe’s elections and a purple water cannon at a protest in Kashmir, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

Photograph by Zhong Cheng Jh—Imaginechina

May 28, 2013. The sleeping infant, who had been rescued from the sewer pipe in a residential building, is seen at a hospital in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, east China.

From the first same-sex marriage in France and memorials in Moore, Okla. to an epic Hobbit battle reenactment and a dinosaur taking the field during a soccer match, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

Photograph by Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images

"It was a humbling experience watching her perform with total discipline this exhausting ritual over the mud and rocks at six o’clock on a very cold, damp morning," photographer Ed Jones tells TIME. He was on assignment for AFP/Getty Images on May 21, 2013 in China’s northwestern Gansu province, a "flashpoint," in recent years, for Tibetan protests against Chinese authorities.

The woman pictured in the image above, also featured in this week’s issue of TIME and in LightBox Pictures of the Week, is “prostrating,” Jones says, “a Buddhist gesture used as a way of achieving purification, accumulating merit, or preparing for meditation, among other things.”

The process involves repeatedly kneeling and extending arms forward until one is completely flat. The duration varies from tens to hundreds or even thousands of repetitions, often covering considerable distance. Blocks of wood, used to protect the hands, often leave trails in the mud.

"She was probably in her mid-twenties, and had a relaxed expression revealing nothing of what I can only imagine must have been an extremely arduous task," Jones says.

The Labrang monastery, seen in the background, is a common location for Tibetans to practice the ritual. “There was no reaction from the people walking past her; as this is something they are accustomed to seeing,” Jones says. “A short distance behind her is another woman, standing up in between performing prostrations.”

"To find out exactly why and for how long this woman was prostrating would have required disturbing her in order to ask, which is something I wanted to avoid," he adds.

Critics of the Chinese regime that has been investing in the region say the ritual is a fading marker of traditional Tibetan culture, according to AFP.

"I was struck by the color of her clothes," Jones says, explaining what drew him to photograph the woman. "In a place full of deep, rustic colors, which on that day were faded by an overcast sky, the artificiality of her fluorescent pink top seemed at the time starkly representative of a modern, outside influence."

—Eugene Reznik

See more of this week’s best photos on LightBox.

Feb. 22, 2013. An employee wears a panda suit while talking to a woman at a panda-themed hotel at the foot of Emei Mountain in Emeishan, southwest China’s Sichuan province. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

See more of the week’s best images at TIME LightBox.

Photograph by Liu Dawei—Xinhua/Landov

Jan. 30, 2013. Feeders hold koalas as they pose for group photos at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province. 

See more of the week’s best images at TIME LightBox

Jan. 6, 2013. Lions in their enclosure react as tourists throw snowballs at them in the Hangzhou Zoo. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress—ZUMAPRESS.com)

See more of the week’s best images at TIME LightBox.

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