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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.
That's the sad thing about competitions.