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I agree with what John and Moira have said. The rotation and crop have produced a stronger image.
I like the fact you set yourself a task and worked through it. That's a good way to concentrate on your photography.
Willie's mod of the colour balance has definitely improved this image, as warmer tones are what most of us find very appealing.
Sometimes the sun is in the 'wrong' place but we have to manage with it. You may have wanted something different than you have here, but i wouldn't say the sun was 'wrong'.
This is very well shot.
I agree with Willie, that is a very good way to find the effect you like. There are no 'best settings' to use. Each image is different, though many people will have their preferred settings they use as a start.
The softness could be exacerbated by overexuberant noise reduction. The right hand side of the sea wall is particularly soft. I can't see why (and I doubt you did) applying noise reduction using only ISO 200.
The curl doesn't add anything to the image. Not this image anyway, some subjects would be better suited, perhaps a shot of a modern building, a flashy car or a still lie of metal and glass objects.
I looked at this for a while and my eye just wandered around the image, not settling anywhere. That indicates that there is no point of interest here. The person in the middle distance is only partly visible. The chicken at the front looks as though it's crept into the composition by accident. As Moira points out, making this a centrepoint would give a strong image.
Manual focussing is definitely the way to go. Auto would be confused and may not lock on properly, especially as you may not have a focus point exactly over a firework as it explodes.
You've captured a lovely scene, and those purples of the heather are really vibrant.
This does look better in colour.
I know you haven't put this up for critique, but it did catch my eye in the thumbnails as i like shots of mountains!
The weather was bad today, so well done for trying something indoors.
I like the toning treatment in V2 but I'm less happy with the blurring at the edges, especially the feet/sandals area. It doesn't add to th eimage and once noticce it's annoying, the cleaner lines of V1 work better. I know it is intended to focus attention oin the centre of the image, but perhaps a little less strong.